Firefighters finally extinguished the fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) on Thursday, four days after it broke out following an explosion during maintenance while it was docked in San Diego.
The Navy says the fire injured 63 people — 40 sailors and 23 civilians — but there were no fatalities and all who were hospitalized have been discharged. Injuries were generally related to heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is on hold until the ship is fully checked.
“Our fire teams are investigating every space to verify the absence of fire,” the Navy said in a statement. “Until every space is checked and there are no active fires we will not be able to commence any official investigations.”
The Navy doesn’t know what caused the fire or what the extent of the damage is. “It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be,” the statement reads.
“What we do know is that brave Sailors from commands all across San Diego worked tirelessly alongside Federal Firefighters to get this fire extinguished and I want to thank them for their efforts,” the statement continues. “This was a Navy team effort. We had support from the air and sea. Three helicopter squadrons conducted more than 1,500 water bucket drops, fighting the fire and cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard to fight the fire. Tugs also provided firefighting support from the waterline, cooling the ship’s hull.”
The Navy will work with regulators, county, and state in the aftermath of the fire.
MAIN PHOTO: SAN DIEGO (July 15, 2020) A group of Sailors departs the pier after supporting firefighting efforts aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), July 15, 2020. On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego. Base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire. Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability, which began in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)