U.S. Navy Ambitious Assault Ship Catches Fire
By: Luke Wang
On Sunday morning, the US Navy ambitious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard caught fire at the Navy Base in San Diego. This fire has been one of the worst damages to an US navy ship out of combat in recent years. Navy officials are still unsure about the cause of the destructive fire.
Firefighting is still going on against the flame-engulfed carrier. The ship has also been listing to one side due to taking in huge amounts of water from the firefighting effort. Sailors onboard, in addition to extinguishing the fire, also have to “dewater” the ship to stabilize it.
59 people have been injured by this accident, 36 sailors and 23 civilians. Fortunately, the injured have already been released from their hospitals by Monday afternoon. There are no known deaths for now.
According to the New York Times, the fire burned through and destroyed the forward mast of the ship while the space beneath the superstructure reached a temperature of 1000 degrees. Admiral Sobeck, whose commanding flagship is the USS Bonhomme Richard, has stated that “there ha[s] been burn damage all the way through the skin of the ship” while not responding to questions about the damage to the hull. The Admiral has also stated that the Navy will assess the ship when the fire is put out.
The USS Bonhomme Richard is one of the Wasp-Class ambitious assault ships, designed to act as a platform and support naval landings. Its presence of a flight deck allows it not only carry navy and Marines helicopters (such as the V-22 Osprey) but also allows VTOL(Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircrafts such as the AV-8 Harriers to use it as an “Aircraft Carrier.” Except for its role as an airborne platform, Wasp-class have an 81x15.2x8.5M well deck to carry an Marine Expeditionary Unit sized ambitious landing equipment.
Commissioned in 1998, the USS Bonhomme Richard was undergoing maintenance at its home port of San Diego before the fire started. The average cost of an Wasp-Class Ambitious Assault Ship was estimated to be around 750 Million US Dollars while the newer America Class LHA costed around 3.3 Billion dollars. If the USS Bonhomme Richard was to be replaced, costs are estimated to be around 4 Billion dollars.