Navy Probe Finds Major Failures In Fire That Destroyed Ship

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A caller study from the Navy recovered large faults starring to an arson occurrence that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard successful July 2020.

A Navy study has concluded determination were sweeping failures by commanders, unit members and others that fueled the July 2020 arson occurrence that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard, calling the monolithic five-day blaze successful San Diego preventable and unacceptable.

While 1 sailor has been charged with mounting the fire, the much than 400-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, lists 3 twelve officers and sailors whose failings either straight led to the ship's nonaccomplishment oregon contributed to it. The findings elaborate wide lapses successful training, coordination, communication, occurrence preparedness, instrumentality attraction and wide bid and control.

"Although the occurrence was started by an enactment of arson, the vessel was mislaid owed to an inability to extinguish the fire,” the study said, concluding that “repeated failures” by an “inadequately prepared crew” delivered "an ineffective occurrence response." 

It slammed commanders of the amphibious battle vessel for mediocre oversight, and said the main firefighting foam strategy wasn't utilized due to the fact that it hadn't been maintained decently and the unit didn't cognize however to usage it.

The study describes a vessel successful disarray, with combustible materials stacked, scattered and stored improperly. It said attraction reports were falsified, and that 87% of the occurrence stations connected committee had instrumentality problems oregon had not been inspected.

It besides recovered that unit members did not ringing the bells and alert sailors that determination was a occurrence until a afloat 10 minutes aft it was discovered. Those important minutes, the study said, caused delays successful crews putting connected occurrence gear, assembling hose teams and responding to the fire. 

Sailors besides failed to propulsion the fastener that would person activated the firefighting foam system, adjacent though it was accessible and could person slowed the advancement of the fire. “No subordinate of the unit interviewed considered this enactment oregon had circumstantial cognition arsenic to the determination of the fastener oregon its function,” the study said.

The study spreads blasted crossed a wide scope of ranks and responsibilities, from the present retired three-star admiral who headed Naval Surface Force Pacific Fleet — Vice Adm. Richard Brown — to elder commanders, petty officers, lieutenants and civilian programme managers. A full of 17 were cited for failures that “directly” led to the nonaccomplishment of the ship, portion 17 others “contributed” to the nonaccomplishment of the ship. Two different sailors were faulted for not efficaciously helping the occurrence response.

Adm. William Lescher, the vice main of naval operations, has designated the commandant of U.S. Pacific Fleet to grip immoderate disciplinary actions for subject members. It’s not wide if immoderate person yet been relieved of bid oregon removed from jobs arsenic a effect of the fire.

But the study said failures of Brown; Rear Adm. Scott Brown, the fleet attraction serviceman for the Pacific Fleet; Rear Adm. William Greene, the fleet attraction serviceman for U.S. Fleet Forces Command; Rear. Adm. Eric Ver Hage, commandant of the determination attraction center; Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commandant of Navy Region Southwest; Capt. Mark Nieswiadomy, commandant of Naval Base San Diego; and Capt. Tony Rodriguez, commandant of Amphibious Squadron 5, each “contributed to the nonaccomplishment of the ship.”

The study besides specifically faults the ship’s 3 apical officers — Capt. Gregory Thoroman, the commanding officer; Capt. Michael Ray, the enforcement officer; and Command Master Chief Jose Hernandez — for not efficaciously ensuring the readiness and information of the ship. 

“The execution of his duties created an situation of mediocre training, attraction and operational standards that straight led to the nonaccomplishment of the ship," the study said of Thoroman. And it said Ray, Hernandez and Capt. David Hart, commandant of the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, besides failed successful their responsibilities, which straight led to the nonaccomplishment of the ship.

The study lone provides names for elder naval officers. Others were described lone by their occupation oregon rank.

More broadly, the unit was slammed for “a signifier of failed drills, minimal unit participation, an lack of basal cognition connected firefighting” and an inability to coordinate with civilian firefighters.

The vessel was undergoing a two-year $250 cardinal upgrade pierside successful San Diego erstwhile the occurrence broke out. About 138 sailors were connected board, and astir 60 were treated for vigor exhaustion, fume inhalation and insignificant injuries. The nonaccomplishment to extinguish oregon incorporate the occurrence led to temperatures exceeding 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit successful immoderate areas, melting sections of the vessel into molten metallic that flowed into different parts of the ship.

Due to the damage, the Navy decommissioned the vessel successful April. In August, Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays was charged with aggravated arson and the willful hazarding of a vessel. He has denied mounting the fire.

The blaze began successful the little retention area, which Mays’ work presumption had entree to, according to a tribunal document. Investigators recovered 3 of 4 occurrence stations connected the vessel had grounds of tampering, including disconnected occurrence hoses, and highly flammable liquid was recovered adjacent the ignition site.

Efforts to enactment retired the occurrence were hampered due to the fact that the ship’s unit and different extracurricular occurrence effect departments and organizations were not coordinated, couldn’t pass effectively, hadn’t exercised unneurotic and weren’t good trained, the study said.

The study was submitted by Vice Adm. Scott Conn to Lescher, who endorsed a fig of recommended changes and improvements. The Navy acceptable up a caller occurrence information appraisal programme that conducts random inspections, and has taken steps to summation training.

In addition, the Navy conducted a humanities survey into Navy vessel fires. It recovered recurring trends associated with 15 shipboard fires implicit 12 years, including failures to comply with occurrence prevention, detection and effect policies. As a result, Navy leaders person taken different steps to summation safety. 

Additional reporting from The Associated Press.