Doubts over Mays (USS Bonhomme Richard) trial reported

| September 27, 2022

There is some controversy over the trial of Ryan Mays, the young sailor accused of setting fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard when she was docked for refurb  July 12, 2020. The out-of-control fire gutted the ship, causing its total loss.

The article concerned spends a lot of time arguing the systemic leadership failures in the chain of command: from chaotic conditions on board, pencil-whipped inspections of safety equipment, poor chain of command before and during the fire – basically no matter which way you slice it, the chain of command screwed the pooch and many need to be relieved, demoted, or just plain thrown out.

The command investigation, led by a three-star admiral, sent a team of investigators on a prodigious and methodical examination of the fire. As the months passed, the investigators uncovered in exhaustive detail an astonishing array of failures — broken or missing fire hoses, poorly trained sailors, improperly stored hazardous material — that had primed the ship for a calamitous fire.

Seems to me that the facts of a broken or incompetent chain of command are pretty much indisputable.

Then the question devolves to “how did the fire start?”.  Regardless of the ship’s state of chaos or its seemingly incompetent leadership: if the fire didn’t start somehow, it would not have led to a loss of the ship. And it seems there is no consensus on HOW the fire started: lithium batteries, arcing forklift motor wires, human action?  NCIS says a seamen E-1 did it, but their conclusions are based on what reads like uncertain witness testimony and a “confession” which sounds suspiciously more like attitudinal snark more than ‘ya got me’.

Last month, the prosecutor, Capt. Jason Jones, asked the judge to forbid Mays’ counsel from presenting the conclusions of the command investigation. Mays, who now holds the lowest military rank of E1, should not be able to ask the court to view him as the fall guy, Jones said.

The Navy wasn’t the problem, Jones said in court, and the trial argument shouldn’t in any way imply that “the Navy needs a scapegoat and therefore we picked an E1.”

I guess I am just naturally cynical – if what is supposed to be an impartial investigation is conducted and the prosecutor tries to suppress it – my first inclination is to admit it and read that baby into the court record.  This is a longish article, and definitely requires some wading to get through it. But I think it is worth spending a few minutes uncritically reading it. It ain’t a pretty picture.






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USMC Steve

All that may be true. Everyone on the ship may have been screwed up and needs to be fired. But in the end, the only question needing to be answered is did this squid set the match to the ship or not. That is the only question that should be asked for now. The ship may have been a tinderbox and an accident that couldn’t wait to happen, but did this guy start that fire or not? If he did, hang him. Then go after all that other stuff.


This reminds me of the USS Iowa turret explosion investigation. NCIS doesn’t exactly have a good track record.


Heh. I got my face shot off by an angry commenter for pointing this out at the start of the Eddie Gallagher investigation.


They were much better on the show with Mark Harmon.


There is no Leroy Jethro Gibbs currently employed by NCIS neutrally investigating things. There sure wasn’t in the old NIS either. NCIS/NIS is/was the Admiral’s career-saving shotgun sent out to prove pre-determined outcomes. It must have been a bit of a struggle for them this time as they couldn’t use the old tried-and-true “homosexual love triangle” to hang this kid…


“NCIS doesn’t exactly have a good track record.”

Ahem; yup.

Please see Tailhook ’91.


The Iowa investigation, Tailhook, blaming Clayton Lonetree for acts committed by Aldrich Ames, Gallagher and the list goes on and on.


SR Mays was just one part of the fault tree which led to the loss of the BHN. The fact they shit-canned much of the senior command lets you know the fish was rotten from the head down.


This reminds me of the USS Iowa turret explosion investigation. NCIS doesn’t exactly have a good track record.


Welp, that shorely burned up a morning to pour over. Gotta wonder if the rail they are riding SR Mays out on came from the wreckage of Good Man Dick. Investigation? Gibbs and Pride weep. Judge sounds like she is the only one that is looking at the case with an unprejudiced eye. That may not bode well for her future career plans. You think Fido became pregnant from all the fornicating that went on? Surprised that they haven’t figured out a way to blame this on Trump…or COVID…or lack of Diversity Training…or…reasons.

I guess as long as a certain gridiron competition in December doesn’t turn into a dumpster fire like the rest of Fleet Operations are, then Big Navy Higher will be happy. gabn


Global Warming. You omitted global warming …. anthropogenic global warming at that.


Someone rattle this doggies cage?

AT1 ret

The whole thing is starting to feel like my cousin vinny..

jeff LPH 3 63-66

The defense had an expert fire investigator come in and the forklift lithiam batteries came up in his investigation. NYC FDNY is going crazy with the amount of lithiam battery runs they have been going on with bikes/scooters with 3rd party/new batteries from over charging.