The Navy will decommission the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) after determining the vessel would be too costly to repair after a July fire aboard the ship caused extensive damage, the Navy announced in a Nov. 30 statement.
After “thorough consideration” and an extensive material assessment, the Navy believes that it is “not fiscally responsible” to restore the ship, the statement reads.
“Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the Sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite said in the statement.
The Navy’s assessment determined the cost to restore the ship would exceed $3 billion and take between five and seven years to complete. Another alternative — rebuilding the ship for alternate purposes — would cost more than $1 billion, or more than it would take to build several types of vessels from scratch.
The ship caught fire July 12 after a fire started on a lower deck while the ship was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego. For four days, firefighters battled the blaze, which injured dozens of sailors and civilians. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“Since July, the Navy has taken numerous actions designed to provide immediate fire safety and prevention improvements across the Fleet and shore installations,” the statement adds. “Working collaboratively, the fleet commanders established a Fire Safety Assessment Program to conduct random assessments of ship’s compliance with Navy fire-safety regulations, with a priority on ships undergoing maintenance availabilities. ”
The ship was commissioned in 1998. It was the third ship in Navy history to bear the name “Bonhomme Richard,” which John Paul Jones named his Continental Navy frigate. The phrase means “Good Man Richard” in French and was meant to honor Benjamin Franklin, publisher of the Poor Richard’s Almanac and ambassador to France at the time.
MAIN PHOTO: SAN DIEGO (July 14, 2020) A helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combats a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 14. On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pierside 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 3rd Class Garrett LaBarge/Released)