WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy announced Monday it has decided to decommission USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, due to the extensive damage it sustained during a fire in July.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her."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," Braithwaite said.
About a month after the July 12 incident, a senior defense official said arson is suspected as the cause of the fire. A U.S. Navy Sailor was questioned as a potential suspect.
The ship burned for more than four days. Forty U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians were treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. No Sailors were hospitalized.
After the fire, the Navy conducted a comprehensive material assessment that concluded the cost to restore Bonhomme Richard could exceed $3 billion and require between five and seven years to complete. The Navy also examined rebuilding the ship for alternate purposes and determined the cost could exceed $1 billion, which is as much or more than a new-construction hospital ship, submarine tender or command-and-control ship.
Although the timeline for towing and dismantlement are still being finalized, the Navy will execute an inactivation availability that will remove systems and components for use in other ships.
Since July, the Navy has taken a number of actions designed to provide immediate fire safety and prevention improvements across the Fleet and shore installations. Working collaboratively, the fleet commanders established a Fire Safety Assessment Program to conduct random assessments of ship’s compliance with Navy fire-safety regulations, with a priority on ships undergoing maintenance availabilities.
Naval Sea Systems Command issued an advisory to all supervising authorities on directed fire prevention requirements and outlined corrective actions to improve fire protection, damage control, and firefighting doctrine, all of which will be executed in close partnerships with industry partners.
All investigations associated with the fire onboard LHD 6 remain ongoing.