Tuesday, September 21

US Navy charges sailor accused of starting the fire that completely destroyed his amphibious assault ship

  • The US Navy brought charges against a sailor in connection to the USS Bonhomme Richard fire.
  • The sailor was a member of the crew and is accused of starting the fire.
  • The fire devastated the amphibious assault ship, leading the Navy to scrap it rather than repair it.

The US Navy has brought criminal charges against a sailor in connection with the fire that devastated the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard last July.

“The Sailor was a member of Bonhomme Richard’s crew at the time and is accused of starting the fire,” Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson said in a statement.

He explained that “evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system.”

The preliminary hearing for the sailor was directed by Third Fleet commander Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, who the Navy says is considering court-martial charges. The service withheld the identity of the sailor.

The serious fire that broke out last summer aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard burned for four days, leaving the vessel in such poor condition in the aftermath that the Navy made the decision to decommission and scrap the ship rather than invest time and money in any attempt to repair it.

In August, there were reports that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had searched the home of a sailor, but no charges were filed at the time.

If the fire was intentionally set, it will mark the second time in a decade the Navy has lost a ship to arson. Following a fire set by a shipyard worker aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Miami in May 2012, the Navy made the decision to scrap the boat. The shipyard worker was sentenced to 17 years in prison.