US Navy to decommission fire-damaged amphibious ship Bonhomme Richard

The US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard on fire at Naval Base San Diego, California, on July 12, 2020 (Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist)

The US Navy, after thorough consideration, has decided to decommission the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard due to the extensive damage it sustained during an onboard fire earlier this year.

US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite said that “various courses of action were considered and evaluated” but that the effort to restore the vessel to full operating condition was “not fiscally responsible.”

Following the fire, the navy conducted a comprehensive material assessment that concluded the cost to restore Bonhomme Richard could exceed US$3 billion and require between five and seven years to complete.

The navy also examined rebuilding the 22-year-old ship for alternate purposes and determined the cost could exceed US$1 billion, which is as much or more than a new-construction hospital ship, submarine tender, or command-and-control ship.

Although the timeline for towing and dismantlement are still being finalised, the navy will execute an inactivation availability that will remove systems and components for use in other ships.

The navy clarified that all investigations associated with the fire on board Bonhomme Richard remain ongoing.

The fire on Bonhomme Richard broke out at around 08:30 local time on July 12 while the ship was moored at Naval Base San Diego. The resulting firefighting effort lasted more than five days.

A total of 61 people suffered various non-life-threatening injuries from the incident.

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