Navy Reports Uncover Tragedy Behind 2020 Blaze

Navy Report Uncovers Tragedy Behind 2020 Blaze

( – In mid-July 2020, witnesses reported an explosion aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard while docked at its San Diego homeport. Naval investigators questioned an unnamed suspect the following month and charged him with aggravated arson about a year later, on July 29, 2021. However, two new investigative reports conducted by Naval officials shed light on numerous other failures that contributed to the complete loss of the ship.

On October 20, US Navy officials announced the public release of a 400+ page report detailing the US Pacific Fleet Command’s investigation into the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard. It also released an executive summary of a Major Fires Review commissioned by the Naval Operations vice chief, spanning incidents over the last 12 years.

Those reports concluded that the loss of USS Bonhomme Richard could have been avoided were it not for the failings of dozens of naval officials.

The reports detailed four categories of factors that resulted in the complete loss of the ship:

  1. Insufficient “oversight” by Naval commanders across multiple organizational levels;
  2. The substandard “material condition” of the ship;
  3. “Training and readiness” deficiencies among the ship’s crew members;
  4. Improper integration between crew members on board the vessel and “shore-based firefighting organizations.”

Naval investigators ultimately concluded that a “lack of familiarity with requirements and… noncompliance [with procedural norms]” at multiple command levels fueled conditions that led to the ship’s loss.

Is it time for Naval officials to consider serious reforms in light of the disturbing findings of these two reports?

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