SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — After five days of crews battling flames, the USS Bonhomme Richard ship fire is extinguished. The day after the flames subsided, Navy Admiral Mike Gilday came to San Diego to see the damage for himself and meet the sailors and crews who had battled the fire.
“The main takeaway for me this morning was really the people, and we outta be proud of them, and the parents of these sailors outta be proud of them,” said Gilday.
He said he met with about 150 people Friday morning to hear their stories of what it was like to fight the fire from the inside. Crews battled temperatures that hit 1000 degrees, even getting as hot as 1200 degrees at one point. He spoke specifically about meeting one petty officer who told him her training on how to fight a fire from the beginning is what prepared her for the battle this past week.
“That training set the foundation for the way she operated and behaved and acted over the past several days. She was very proud of what she did and the teamwork that was involved,” he said.
He added that two of the factors that made it difficult to put out the fire were the high winds and the explosions.
“This fire probably couldn’t have been at a worse point on this ship in terms of its source that allowed it to spread up elevator shafts as an example, up exhaust stacks,” he said, adding that “there were times when he had to back those firefighters off the ship. At one point the explosion was so great that it blew the debris across the pier and onto the ship that was across the way.”
The Admiral also talked about what’s next for the ship. He said the next steps are doing a safety investigation, a criminal investigation (which he added is typical), a command investigation to look at the procedures in place and what crews did right or wrong, and finally an assessment of the structural, mechanical and electrical damage, which will be done with the help of the people who built and know the ship.
The Navy has not decided if the USS Bonhomme Richard will be recovered.
“I am 100% confident that our defense industry can put this ship back to sea, but the question is should we make that investment in a 22-year-old ship,” said the Admiral.
A spokesperson for the Navy confirmed that the flames have all been extinguished, but crews continue to watch for hot spots popping up.