In July 2020, the USS Bonhomme Richard went up in flames at Naval Base San Diego.
According to The Hill, the blaze lasted four days and injured 63 people, including 40 service members and 23 civilians. Thankfully, nobody was killed.
The U.S. Navy decided to scrap the amphibious assault ship in November, as it would have taken seven years and $3 billion to repair it.
— Naval Surface Forces (@SurfaceWarriors) July 12, 2020
Now, someone may have to answer for the disaster.
The Navy on Thursday charged a sailor with arson, accusing him of intentionally causing one of the worst non-combat warship fires in recent memory.
The name of the sailor was not released, but Navy sources noted that he was a member of the Bonhomme Richard’s crew at the time of the fire.
U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson said in a statement that “evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system.”
Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of the 3rd Fleet and the individual responsible for overseeing the case, said he “is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing” for the charged sailor.
Obviously, these officers know far more about the situation than I do, but I wonder why the sailor in question was not charged with attempted murder.
He is accused of starting a fire on a ship with people on board, so one could reasonably infer that he had some intent to kill.
I was not the only one to make this observation, either:
Just arson? If you knowingly start a fire knowing that people could get killed is attempted murder.
— Mad World (@mmmadWORLDDD) July 29, 2021
No motive has yet been revealed.
Let’s hope the Navy can get to the bottom of what appears to be an act of sabotage by one of its own.
Even apart from those considerations, assuming the arson charges stick, the man responsible needs to be brought to justice. His crime could very well have had a much more tragic outcome.
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