Last July, I wrote about the fire aboard the USS Bohomme Richard as it was still being fought by Navy and civilian personnel. I just came across this news piece from NBC yesterday and am sorry to report that the Navy has decided that the cost of repairing this the Bonhomme Richard has forced them to make the difficult decision to decommission her instead.
This is sad news for the Navy and for all of the sailors and Marines who have served on her over her 22 year history.
The Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious assault ship and as such she represented the close bond between the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. This ship was designed to bring Marine Corps assault battalions to the battlefield from sea and mobilize assets in the war fighting arena. She is half carrier, being able to land and launch Marine Corps Harrier fighter jets as well as helicopters for assault, transport and supply. It gave a Marine Corps assault battalion not only transport abilities, but made it possible to bring to bear air, sea and land fighting capabilities for swift and devastating responses wherever they were needed.
The Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a 2-year-long upgrade and repair when the fire started on Sunday, July 18, 2020. It burned for five days and was intense and devastating. There were even several explosions during the height of the fire.
It is estimated that the temperatures of the fire reached as high as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. About 60% of the ship was damaged severely. More than 60 sailors and civilians who fought the fire over those five days were treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. One-hundred and sixty sailors were billeted aboard her when the fire broke out and were safely evacuated.
The announcement for decommissioning was made by the Secretary of the Navy, Kenneth J. Braithwaite. He said of the decision, “Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her as well as the sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22 year history.”
NBC 7 News San Diego also reported that there is an ongoing investigation into the cause of the fire. It is suspected now that it was arson and a sailor has been identified as the possible suspect. No further information was able to be provided by the NCIS investigators due to the fact that the investigations are still under way.
It is estimated that to fully repair the Bonhomme Richard to warfighting capability, it would cost from $2.5 to $3 billion. If she were to be repaired to be used for another purpose, such as a hospital ship, that would cost up to $1 billion. Both options would take from 5-7 years to complete.
The Navy has determined that spending that much at this time would damage their overall budget plans for the future.
This is truly a sad day for many. The USS Bonhomme Richard was an incredible ship and will be remembered fondly by many sailors and Marines who went to sea in her.
The Veterans Site is saddened by this news as are many who knew her well. It is a great loss to the Navy and the Marine Corps. The decommissioning will take place at San Diego and her crew will be receiving reassignments. We say a sad good bye to a noble warship. May her memory continue in a new ship sometime down the line.
Learn more in the video below.Whizzco