Navy sailors and civilian fire crews fight the fire aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), July 13, 2020. U.S. Navy Photo

Navy to Scrap USS Bonhomme Richard After Fire

Mike Schuler
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November 30, 2020

The U.S. Navy has decided to scrap the amphibious landing dock USS Bonhomme Richard due to extensive damage from last July’s fire at Naval Base San Diego.

The Navy said it came to the decision after an assessment concluded that the cost to restore the ship could be more than $3 billion and would take between five and seven years to complete. The Navy also examined rebuilding and repurposing the vessel, but determined that cost would also likely exceed $1 billion – more than a new-construction hospital ship, submarine tender, or command-and-control ship, the Navy said.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.”

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) will instead be decommissioned, towed away and dismantled, the details of which are still being finalized.

The USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, specifically a landing helicopter dock, that was commissioned by the Navy in 1998. It was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego when a fire started in a lower vehicle deck and subsequently spread through additional decks, including the ship’s island and mast. It took four days to put out the fire. Dozens of Navy sailors and firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

The Navy said all investigations associated with the fire are on-going.

200713-N-UV609-1099 SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2020) An MH-60S helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combats a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mora Jr./Released

Prior to completing a homeport shift to San Diego in 2018, the Bonhomme Richard was forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan where it served for six years as the flagship of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet’s expeditionary strike group. It was nearing the end of an extended maintenance availability, which included upgrades and modernization to operate the F-35 Lightning II, when the fire started.

“Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the Sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Braithwaite said.

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