Leadership and seamanship failures doomed the Bonhomme Richard

| October 20, 2021

It used to be that basic maintenance, basic damage control, and advanced damage control were mandatory. In fact, Sailors that did not get basic maintenance and basic damage control qualified within a qualification time frame were administratively restricted to the ship. They did not go on liberty, or go home, until they achieved qualification.

Basic maintenance is required as equipment needs to be checked for serviceability, operability, etc. Basic damage control involves knowing how to use the different equipment that would be needed to address ship threatening emergencies. Advanced damage control expanded on this training.

The Navy conducted two main types of fire drills, “at sea” and “import”. These drills were conducted frequently, even during availabilities. They could range from a simple problem involving a fire or a flood in a room, to massive multiple front firefighting or flooding scenarios.

The ship had internal graders that conducted and graded these drills. Additionally, there were graders that came from outside the ship to grade these activities. The “ultimate test” was a training mission to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Here, the ship stayed until it got certified to do everything it needed to do during a deployment.

It appears that this emphasis has declined. A report of the fire on the Bonhomme Richard showed a failure in basic maintenance, basic damage control, and advanced damage control. It showed a failure in both leadership and in basic seamanship. For example, Sailors did not know how to use, or were not aware of, items that could have been utilized to slow the spread of the fire.

From USNI News:

Material Condition. Throughout the maintenance period, the material condition of the ship was significantly degraded, to include heat detection capability, communications equipment, shipboard firefighting systems, miscellaneous gear clutter, and combustible material accumulation. To illustrate the extent of degradation, on the morning of the fire, 87% of the ship’s fire stations remained in inactive equipment maintenance status.

Training and Readiness. The training and readiness of Ship’s Force was marked by a pattern of failed drills, minimal crew participation, an absence of basic knowledge on firefighting in an industrial environment, and unfamiliarity on how to integrate supporting civilian firefighters. To illustrate this point, the crew had failed to meet the time standard for applying firefighting agent on the seat of the fire on 14 consecutive occasions leading up to 12 July 2020.

Shore Establishment Support. The integration and support expected by the shore establishment did not adhere to required standards. Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) did not meet their requirements associated with fire safety and, in doing so, failed to communicate risk to leadership while facilitating unmitigated deviations from technical directives. Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) failed to ensure its civilian firefighters were familiar with Navy vessels on the installation, verify they were trained to respond to a shipboard fire, or effectively practice how to support Ship’s Force and simultaneously integrate responding mutual aid assets.

Oversight. Ineffective oversight by the cognizant Commanders across various organizations permitted their subordinates to take unmitigated risk in fire preparedness. A significant source of this problem was an absence of codification of the roles and responsibilities expected by each organization in their oversight execution.

Common to all four focus areas was a lack of familiarity with key policies and requirements along with procedural non-compliance at all levels of command from the unit level to programmatic, policy, and resourcing decisions. An example of how these focus areas combined to result in unacceptable levels of risk is the status of the ship’s Aqueous Film Forming Foam sprinkling system. At no point in the firefighting effort was it used — in part because maintenance was not properly performed to keep it ready and in part because the crew lacked familiarity with capability and availability.

USNI News has an article here that includes the official report. Fox News and other sites also talk about this event.

Category: Navy

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What? Work, effort, commitment? That’s “racist” now!

    • rgr769 says:

      What will the Navy do now that showing up for duty on time is “racist” or acting all white supremacy? Might be little difficult determining when watches start with some of the “Woke” crew showing up to stand their watches whenever the mood strikes them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Heroism is hurtful and oppressive, but surrendering to China is “woke” and inclusive– where sh*t is going.

  2. FuzeVT says:

    Still can’t believe a disgruntled E-3 took out a giant amphib more effectively than several Exocets could have.

    As I’ve mentioned before, that was my home away from home at sea for about 9 months, collectively. So sad to see what happened to her.

    BHR, we hardly knew ye.

    https://flic.kr/s/aHsmUK9bPT

    • 5JC says:

      So much easier to destroy things from the inside than to build.

      I didn’t know Mays was a five day bell ringer at Coronado. I guess he got his revenge for them talking mean to him and making him quit like that.

  3. Hack Stone says:

    On the positive side, all of the Sailors assigned to the ship are rated as Excellent in recognizing White Supremacy, 92% are able to identify all of the current gender identities.

    • 5JC says:

      Not bad for the world’s second largest navy. I bet the Chinese can’t do all that.

      • ChipNASA says:

        I bet they can.
        I mean, I’m sure ALL of them can score almost perfectly identifying the “White Debbil” and as far as gender identification, here’s a quick How-To video…

        • ChipNASA says:

          OK well you may have to clicky on the linky to view it but it’s only 10 seconds so it’s not a strain.
          I know there’s talk about (P)Resident Ole Fiddle Faddle, “Let’s Go Brandon”, Joe Biden being manipulated and under the control of the CCP, and I have it on good authority that this is in fact somewhat, mostly true (FACT CHECK!! CONTEXT!!!) Joe has been trained and supervised by these masters. (As has a majority of the Congress, Cabinet and JCS and much of the U.S. military leadership)

    • Anonymous says:

      But isn’t this political:

  4. Hrd2Stbd says:

    Back when I was on Facebook a few years ago, I was part of a CPO group. There were a lot of apologists for what was happening at that time that to me indicated rapidly declining discipline in the Navy. I was scolded for my negative comments. We’re now seeing the inevitable result of what I was trying to get them to see.

  5. cobrakai99 says:

    WOKE training > real training

  6. ChipNASA says:

    Even as an Air Force dude, I know this is *not* good.
    Training, training and more training.
    I was CBRN/Chem Warfare training for the squadron.
    Everybody bitched, I mean who here LOVES MOPP 4??
    Until the folks were in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003.
    When they had to crawl in the pipes and the bunkers and mask up and suit up, they were able to mask up in 15 seconds or less and suit up in less than 2 minutes if they weren’t already MOPP’d up.

    I see the same thing here. Imagine not training with your suit and mask and then after 6 months or a year or two having to whip everything out of the bag and then get into it, effectively or correctly.
    No. Fucking. Chance.
    And here we have the same thing. No Maintenance, housekeeping or training in the use of the equipment, WHICH was shit, SO, it’s not a surprise that this ship burned.

    • USMC Steve says:

      MOPP 4 is not so bad – if you are in Northern Norway in January.

      • ChipNASA says:

        Thule Air Base (Freezin’ is the Season)
        Amundsen-Scott Station
        Fort Drum
        Minot (Why Not?)

      • David says:

        Mildly insane NBC NCO pedaled his bicycle 30km into town in morning rush hour to show his troops you can indeed function in MOPP4. Germany 1983.

        • ChipNASA says:

          A true “no shitter” right there David. .
          How do I know that’s an absolutely legit story? Because who in their right mind could make that shit up unless it really happened?! 😁
          I say that my military career, as long as it was, didn’t have any tales of derring-do but more stories about shit that was done usually related to consumption of alcohol and lack of maturity, than slaying the enemy and stacking bodies and anything worth earning metals.
          Like an alleged weekend fireworks 💥 battle, in the hallway of the dorm, at Kadena, Okinawa, on the second floor, setting the carpet on fire, and having to open the doors at either end if the hall to try to air out the smoke, shortly before we heard sirens 🚨 and the SPs showed up. (It was a quick battle. Aren’t they usually? 😬😖😏)

          No one got in trouble however the first sergeant showed up cleared the entire building had us all stand at attention. in the parking lot like 40 or 50 of us, at night, and yelled at us for about 10 minutes. Allegedly. 😉

        • 5JC says:

          When I was at Ft. Bliss our Brigade CSM would do PT twice a week in MOPP 4. If he passed you while out running he would call out the whole unit. He was dumber than a bag of hammers but he could PT most soldiers into the ground.

  7. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    But I’m sure that the Crew aboard was 100% on their SHARP training!

  8. And the crew onboard the USS Franklin “AKA” The ship that couldn’t be sunk brought her into the yards during WW2 without all the modern fire fighting gear that the Navy has today and more modern gear that we had back in the early 1960’s.

  9. KoB says:

    Soooo…it’s basic that basic f’kups, basically cost us a 5 billion $ warship. Maybe they should send everyone back to Basic until they get the basics down.

    A Proud Ship, with an even Prouder History meeting such an inglorious end. Damn shame all around.

  10. Carlton says:

    I just hope this event doesn’t adversely affect gay rights.

    /sarc

    • MustangCryppie says:

      And trans rights! Don’t forget those for God’s sake!

      • rgr769 says:

        Yep, let’s keep in mind all the flavors of the Alphabet People, as Chapelle used to call them. After all, without them this nation would not exist. Did you know Fulton, who invented the steam engine was gay. And that Whitney fellow who invented the cotton gin was a woman who became a man. Then there was Thomas Edison; he was secretly a lesbian woman who was into BDSM. Even General Stormin Norman was secretly a Furry. That is how he got that nickname.

        • ChipNASA says:

          Fuck you rgr769 ☺️
          I challenge anybody else to read what you just wrote and not start laughing I shit you not I can’t even type this and I’m sitting here snickering 😅😄😆🤣🖕🐕🖕🖕🖕👌😛 FUCKER … Stormin’ Norman Desert Fox II
          (Yes I saw the Trump “false” flag 🙄)

        • 5JC says:

          I knew it! It took way too long to invent the light bulb. I bet they were in there shocking each other’s junk 90% of the time.

          • ChipNASA says:

            What. The. FLYING.MONKEY. FUCK. IS. *WRONG*. WITH. YOU. PEOPLE?!?!?!?!
            😐😳😬😭
            You are fucking disturbed.!!!
            And I thought I was the only one. Whew.

      • Sapper3307 says:

        Lars moms, thank you!