‘Inadequately Prepared’: Report Holds Navy Officers And Crew Responsible For Loss Of Navy Warship To Arson

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A new report from the U.S. Navy on the burning of the USS Bonhomme Richard in July 2020 blames its complete destruction on the ship’s officers and crew, alleging that they were “inadequately prepared” and that they did not have an “effective fire response.”

“Although the fire was started by an act of arson, the ship was lost due to an inability to extinguish the fire,” former U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Scott Conn said in his report on the incident, according to USNI News. 

Conn’s review was completed in April, but public reports first appeared this week. Many throughout the Navy were implicated as responsible for the disaster including five admirals and 31 other Navy crew and officials. 

“In the 19 months executing the ship’s maintenance availability, repeated failures allowed for the accumulation of significant risk and an inadequately prepared crew, which led to an ineffective fire response,” Conn added. 

A report into the destruction of the Bonhomme Richard, a $2 billion ship, was supported by some in Navy leadership. 

“The training and readiness of the ship’s crew were deficient. They were unprepared to respond. Integration between the ship and supporting shore-based firefighting organizations was inadequate,” said Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo in August. 

“There was an absence of effective oversight that should have identified the accumulated risk, and taken independent action to ensure readiness to fight a fire,” Paparo, who is in charge of disciplining those implicated in the report, said.  “Common to the failures evident in each of these broad categories was a lack of familiarity with requirements and procedural noncompliance at all levels of command.”

The warship’s commanding officer, Captain Gregory Thoroman was specifically excoriated by the report. 

“The execution of his duties created an environment of poor training, maintenance and operational standards that directly led to the loss of the ship,” the report stated. 

According to Conn, the ship’s firefighting foam system, which could have helped fight the fire as it blazed through the ship, was not activated. 

“No member of the crew interviewed considered this action or had specific knowledge as to the location of the button or its function,” he wrote.

Not only was the fire an expensive disaster, but it also resulted in the injury of dozens of crewmembers. 

“The ship was undergoing a two-year $250 million upgrade pierside in San Diego when the fire broke out,” the AP reported,  “About 138 sailors were on board, and nearly 60 were treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries.”

As The Daily Wire reported, San Diego’s Fire Department responded to the fire and tried to extinguish the blaze. 

“We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base, and shipboard firefighters aboard BHR. Our thoughts and prayers are with our BHR Sailors, their families, and our emergency responders who continue to fight the fire,” Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations said at the time

Seaman Apprentice Ryan Sawyer Mays, the sailor charged with setting the fire, is awaiting his preliminary hearing in San Diego.

Related: San Diego Navy Ship Fire Injures Over A Dozen Sailors

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