Navy charges sailor with starting days-long fire that destroyed USS Bonhomme Richard

The Navy said it is bringing arson charges against a sailor in last July’s four-day fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard that ended up destroying the amphibious assault ship.

On Thursday, the Navy announced it would charge the sailor “in response to evidence found during the criminal investigation” into the fire, which started on the Bonhomme Richard on July 12, U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson said in a statement.

“Evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system,” Robertson said.

The Navy did not name the sailor, but said the individual was a member of the ship’s crew at the time. The fire started when the ship sat in port at Naval Base San Diego.

The blaze injured 63 people, including 40 sailors and 23 civilians, and rendered the ship unsalvageable.

The Navy in November decided to decommission the ship “due to the extensive damage,” which would have cost more than $3 billion and take up to seven years to repair.

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, who is head of the 3rd Fleet and overseeing the case, “is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing” for the sailor that will determine if there is enough evidence for a court-martial.

Tags Arson California court martial Fire Navy San Diego
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