Bonhomme Richard Fire

| July 13, 2020

USS Bonhomme Richard Pier-side Fire

Two from Mick:


Times Of San Diego

Thanks Mick.

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Very sad, indeed. Most of my at sea time was spent on her while I was on the 31st MEU. Thankfully no one seems to have been seriously hurt. It will be interesting to see what the cause was. They were in the yard, so it could have been some of the maintenance being done – but that’s a guess.

Some pictures from better days:

5th/77th FA

Tanks FuzeVT. Had no real clue how these ships were configured, and sure had no clue as to what all they could bring to the party. Those were some interesting shots. Imma wanna gets me one of them thar R2D2 looking Gatling Guns. Reckon I could mount one on the back of my F150?

I’m still of the opinion that there is something nefarious about all of this. This kind of sabotage is very easy to do and get away with.


Basically, you have the flight deck where, you know, flighty stuff happens. Usually we had most of the V-22s and skids up front and the shitters (CH-53s) and AV-8s aft of the island. Most of those were moved to a spot (those angular marks on the deck) and then they took off but the AV-8s need the entire deck clear to do a short take off. They landed in the same way as a helo but SO MUCH LOUDER.
Below that is the hanger deck where major maintenance was done. that is where you got on the ship in port. Below that is the Lower Vee (they called a “deep vee” in the story – I never heard that). That held most of the USMC rolling stock (HMMWVs and 7 ton trucks mostly) and the Howitzers. In the 31st MEU we did not have tanks or LAVs . Going aft in the Lower Vee you got to the well-deck. This is where the landing craft would be such as LCACs or LCUs or AMTRACs exit the ship when it is ballasts down.
There are, of course, all of the spots for living and ship operation, but those are the main areas that are large work spaces.

The R2D2 Gatlin gun is a Close In Weapons System – CWIS (pronounced see-wiz). The movie “Battleship” shows them shooting all manner of things being shot at a destroyer. Ours, unfortunately, usually weren’t working.

Sabotage? It’s happened before as some of the other posts have pointed out.

Looking aft out the well deck:
comment image


The crew is damn lucky the ship is in port and now in the middle of the Pacific.


Oh yes. The only difference is that with all of the fire control parties (normal sailors trained in such things), it might have been contained. Who knows? As it is, it sounds like the folks on board did try, but got overwhelmed. Not sure who would have been aboard since it was in the yard. Were there fire control parties there at the time? I don’t know. It’s not like I have a lot of experience on ships and none in port.


Seems rather self-evident that when you have the fire suppression system off-line that other arrangements would be in place just in case. Maybe more than the usual number of folks on watch, for instance.

Oh, well.


Really hope this isn’t a repeat of the USS Miami, with some shitbird contract employee wanting to go home.

Hack Stone

We seem to think alike. Did you have leftover drunken shrimp noodles for lunch, too?


nope, cold pizza


Doubtful. Ricky Rumor has it starting as electrical explosion and fire in one of their emergency generators.

And given how much shit is usually torn down to parade rest during an availability, DC efforts would be difficult at best.


I heard the fire systems were tagged out. Which would be bad timing for a fire.


Not unheard of in a yard period. And the temp systems would be okay for a smallish fire, but a major conflagration? Yeah, no.

E4 Mafia '83-'87

My first reaction was “fucking yardbirds!” As an HT, I can’t believe a pier side fire is still raging. Who’s the DCA? What’s the DC training level on that tub?


I have a very bad feeling about this.


Sunday morning, 9 am? Virtually no work going on at that point yet.

Besides, if it was a sudden onset fire (explosion/fire of any sort) the duty DC parties would be quickly overwhelmed.

Hack Stone

Hopefully the cause will not be determined to be like this one.

Herbert J Messkit

Will a Sailor clear up something? The news has been pronouncing it Bon Homme Richard with a silent e. I’ve always pronounced it with e. Which is correct?



Bon’omm reesharhd


My late retired Navy buddy referred to it as the “Bonne Dick. “



And the Rusty Roku (Japanese for 6) but this was generally during casualty reports to the ARG Commodore.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

When I was in, CV-31 was called the Bonnie Dick. On the way back from Op Steel Pike 1, (1964) we had a fire down in the 3rd deck incinerator space where all the galley empty cardboard boxes were. One of our DC men went down the ladder with his OBA and an inch and a half line and knocked it down. Shipboard fires are a little different and sometimes difficult to fight than a land based structure fire in that with all the ducting and voids loaded with electrical wiring, fire always travels to the path of least resistance and due to the metal based construction of the ship, it is very hard for members to “open up” and cut off the path of the fire. I read Masons comment about the fire suppression was tagged out so in that case it would further the acceleration of the fire. When I was on Ladder 2, we had the saying that any fire could be knocked down with 2 cans and a hook, ONLY if you got there early enough. You FF’s out there know what I mean. I hope all the crew and FD members stay safe and get the job U/C.


Ah, the USS Bon Homme Richard. Good old Admiral Morrison’s ship (father of the deceased Doors lead man).


And interesting factoid:

The original ship was named for Ben Franklin, as Bonhomme Richard was the French translation of a pseudonym of his, Poor Richard.

He was the American representative in Paris at the time of the ship’s naming.


An -amphib- burns and is wrecked. That is just -too- convenient,eh?

Benjamin Franklin and Yorktown were bombed to snot and the crews saved them both. This was supposedly a “whoops”, pier-side, with all sorts of extra resources, and now she is likely scrap.

I am not actually buying “Accident”. Too damn many “accidents”.

5th/77th FA

Imma leaning the same way 11B. Somebody wanted this ship to burn. Lotsa flamables around…that are hard to put out once they start burning. We wuz tracking this on evening last, swapping linkys and such as they came in on the WOT.

Wonder who clued in the newsies on the proper pronunciation?


When this started, there were only 160 of 1000 crew onboard. Due to maintenance being conducted, we don’t know what fire suppression systems were tagged out, or what fire boundaries were left open for hoses and wires to pass through for the contractors working onboard. To compare damage control efforts here to fully manned ships at Zebra is just bad form.


My point is that this fire didn’t have to be this bad.

Corners cut. Mistakes made. Outright malice. Don’t know.

But this stinks.

The Other Whitey

Wonder if anybody at the yard has had any interesting connections with Red Chinese nationals.


UPDATE: 57 injured so far while fighting this fire.

‘Navy raises injury toll from USS Bonhomme Richard blaze to 57, fire still burning’

‘Firefighting teams in San Diego, Calif., worked through the night and into the morning to extinguish a fire that continued to burn aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, as the Navy on Monday raised the injury toll to 57 people.

The fire broke out aboard the ship docked at Naval Base San Diego around 11:30 a.m. local time on Sunday. More than 22 hours later, the Navy said the fire was still burning.

Five of the injured were sailors who were admitted to local hospitals and listed in stable condition, the Navy said.

The other 52 injuries included both sailors and civilians who received treatment for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.



At what point do they tow it out and let it go?

We call firefighters “basement savers” for a reason.



We prefer “Pool creation technicians” thank you very much!


She’s toast. Fire got into the superstructure and the aft mast has collapsed, which indicates a lot of internal damage to structure. Thankfully no one has died, and the ship can be replaced, but not soon… Accident? Who knows?


When I was at Shuiaba port in Kuwait in 04 one of the ships tied up caught fire. I guess it was similar to this in that it burned for a couple days. I think they did finally tow it away from the pier although I think they put it out shortly thereafter. Wasn’t is Navy ship but one of the cargo ships bringing in fresh vehicles. Shipboard fires aren’t that uncommon although this one is obviously out of control.


If we cannot put the fire out in a calm port with full reserve forces and resources I cant imagine this going good at sea (peace time or combat).


Somebody f*cked up… at the very least.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

As a raging fire continued to decimate the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard in its San Diego port Monday for a second day, the commanding officer of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 told reporters that keeping the flames from the 1 million gallons of fuel onboard while preventing listing were the priorities And while Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said he remained hopeful that the amphib would get underway again, the damage he described, as well as photos and videos of the inferno, painted a grim future for the ship. “The superstructure and the upper decks continue to burn and have sustained damage,” Sobeck said at 11 a.m. local time. “The forward mast has collapsed, and the ship is listing. However, dewatering is in process and we’re keeping a good balance.” Sobeck said they estimate there are roughly two well decks between fuel and the fire, which has been measured as high as 1,000 degrees in spots. “Estimates are right now that we’ve got at least two decks between the heat source” and the fuel, he said. Smoke rises from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard Sunday after an explosion and fire on board the ship at Naval Base San Diego. Admiral: Bonhomme Richard fire believed to have started in the ‘Deep V’ cargo hold Local firefighters are responding to a massive blaze on board the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard. Cooling agents are being circulated around the ship in the water to keep temperatures down, Sobeck said. “We plan for the worst case all the time, we train to it and we’re going to make sure we don’t get there,” he said. The fire was reported at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and 57 personnel — 34 of them sailors — have been injured and treated mostly for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, Sobeck said. Five remain in the hospital, he added. The inferno “has spread throughout the ship” he said, adding that there was “burn damage all the way through the skin of the ship.” “The superstructure and the island have again been flashing tremendous amount of heat underneath,” he said.… Read more »


The first article I read said the fire started in a hold containing cardboard and drywall. Now I am wondering just what sort of flammable materials were on board, and why?

Peter kalal

I remember Ricky rumor if you weren’t in before 1990 you wouldn’t


Sad to say the least. Yes, all sorts of questions come to mind. Accident? While the fire suppression systems were conveniently turned off. Well, sure. OK. Uh-huh.

We shall see.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

I was in High School when the Connie caught fire while under construction in the Brooklyn Navy Yard caused by a fork lift operator transporting a steel plate which broke off a pipe which was connected to a diesel fuel tank and the product went down the decks and what the outcome was that it hit a flame source and there was a lot of wood scafolding that went up causing the deaths of 50 yard birds.

The Other Whitey

I’m fifty miles inland and smelling the smoke.


Get a load of this. Apparently some chump named Roberto D. Hernández believes that the fire on the Bonhomme Richard is an addition to so-called “environmental racism.” Go screw yourself Hernández, you good for nothing waste of skin. I wonder what the injured sailors have to say about your complaint. I bet they couldn’t give a rat’s ass what you think or what your concerns are, you self important jerk.

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