One of the US Navy’s key vessels in its Pacific fleet, the Wasp class LHD USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), has been extensively damaged by fire at its home port in San Diego.
Reported to have started in the vessel’s lower cargo deck below the waterline at around 0830 local time on July 12, the vessel has been burning all day. Media images showed the vessel engulfed in smoke as multiple fire engines and tugs pouring water in and, as dark fell in San Diego, the ship’s island structure was still well alight.
The US Navy reports all of the ship’s crew and contractor personnel have been accounted for, and that there are 21 injuries.
“Today, we suffered a terrible tragedy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard when a fire broke out aboard the ship while in port San Diego,” a statement from the Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs reads. “At this point, 17 Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital. We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base, and shipboard firefighters aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.”
RAdm Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 later said in a pier-side media conference that most of the injuries had been attributed to “smoke inhalation”.
Nicknamed ‘Bonny Dick’, the 843ft long 41,000 tonne LHD was launched in 1997 and commissioned in 1998, and has made several Pacific and Middle East deployments during its service career, including participating in Exercise Talisman Saber off the coast of Queensland in 2017.
The ship returned to San Diego from its last cruise in late 2018 and has been undergoing an extended maintenance availability period since then.