NewsLocal News


US Navy investigation cites sweeping failures in USS Bonhomme Richard fire at Naval Base San Diego

Posted at 11:15 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 21:55:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The U.S. Navy on Wednesday officially released its findings from the investigation into the July 2020 fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard warship at Naval Base San Diego.

One of two reports that the Navy made public focused on the investigation and highlighted the various factors that ultimately led to the destruction of the ship.

The other report, Navy officials said, was “a Major Fires Review commissioned by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations that examined all major fires in the Navy over the last 12 years.”

Investigators concluded that the ship’s crew and command failed to handle the fire properly after the blaze erupted aboard the ship on July 12, 2020.

During a Wednesday morning conference call to discuss the report, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Lescher said, “This was a comprehensive review with about 15 supporting organizations, 250 experts, 38 site unit surveys, and 14 locations worldwide covering all our ship plans.”

He added, “Overall, this command investigation concluded that the loss of the ship was completely preventable, and this is unacceptable.”

Some of the key conclusions from the 434-page investigative report:

  • the material condition of the ship was left unnecessarily vulnerable
  • the training of the crew was deemed to be deficient, and they were “unprepared to respond”
  • there was an “absence of effective oversight”

Click here to view the full report

The firefighting effort lasted four days, with more than 60 people -- including sailors and firefighters -- treated for various injuries.

Twenty-year-old sailor Ryan Mays faces charges of aggravated arson and willfully hazarding a vessel in connection with the fire.

The investigative report identified 36 people who could face potential disciplinary action over the ship fire. Those individuals are currently not being investigated for criminal negligence, and Navy officials did not elaborate further.