Sailor Charged with Arson for Fire That Destroyed USS Bonhomme Richard

After a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Navy has announced that they have enough evidence against a sailor who was a crew member of the ship to conduct a preliminary hearing which could lead to criminal charges and a court-martial.

According to Sean Robertson, U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs Officer Navy Cmdr. "Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing, at which an impartial hearing officer will make determinations and recommendations required by the UCMJ prior to any further trial proceedings – including whether or not there is probable cause to believe an offense has been committed and to offer a recommendation as to the disposition of the case,"

The sailor's identity has not been released, but Robertson told NBC 7 that the accused is a Seaman Apprentice Sailor E2.

When the fire took place on July 12, 2020, while the USS Bonhomme Richard was docked at Naval Base San Diego where it was in the final stages of a two-year, $250 million dollar upgrade. The fire was started in the ship's lower storage area, but it quickly grew out of control and took five days to extinguish.

USS Bonhomme Richard was decommissioned after it was determined that the cost of repairing this 840-foot war ship would exceed $3 billion dollars. Navy officials say the fire was the worst sustained by a U.S. warship outside of combat.

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