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U.S. Navy Hands Down Punishments Over Bonhomme Richard Fire

Sailors and Federal Firefighters combat a fire onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross/Released)

U.S. Navy Hands Down Punishments Over Bonhomme Richard Fire

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July 18, 2022

The U.S. Navy has announced a series of accountability actions in response to the 2020 fire on board the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in San Diego.

The punishments are primarily focused on Bonhomme Richard’s senior leadership and the fire response team.

In total there were 27 individual disposition decisions, including six Nonjudicial Punishments (NJP) with guilty findings, two NJPs with Matter of Interest Filings (MIF) and a Letter of Instruction (LOI), two NJP dismissals with a warning, one additional MIF, five other LOIs, three Non-Punitive Letters of Caution (NPLOC), two letters to former Sailors documenting substandard performance, and six no-action determinations.

Adm. Samuel Paparo, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA), awarded punitive letters of reprimand and forfeitures of pay to Capt. Gregory Scott Thoroman, former commanding officer, and Capt. Michael Ray, former executive officer. Former Command Master Chief Jose Hernandez was awarded a punitive letter of reprimand.

Additionaly, LOIs were awarded to Rear Adm. Scott Brown, U.S. Pacific Fleet director of fleet maintenance, and Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center.

Additionally, Secretary Del Toro issued a Secretarial Letter of Censure (SLOC) to Vice Adm. (ret) Richard Brown. At the time of the fire, Vice Adm. (ret) Brown was Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The punishments are separate and distinct from the ongoing criminal proceedings against Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays, who is accused of arson and hazarding a vessel, nor do they represent the entirety of corrective actions following the fire.

“When leaders’ actions or inactions result in the loss of life or capital resources, the senior leadership of the Department of the Navy has a responsibility to determine the root cause and hold those accountable,” Del Toro said in a message sent to the Department of the Navy on June 2. “This fire could have been prevented with adequate oversight into the ship’s material condition and the crew’s readiness to combat a fire.”

“Losing Bonhomme Richard to this fire was preventable. We are making significant changes in the way the Navy learns and leads so that this does not happen again,” said Adm. William Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Bonhomme Richard Fire: Series of Failures Led to Ship’s Destruction

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