Navy Charges Sailor With Setting Fire That Destroyed Billion-Dollar Ship

By Jason Hall

July 30, 2021

Photo: Jason Hall

The U.S. Navy has charged a sailor in connection to a fire that destroyed a billion-dollar ship last summer.

ABC News reports the unidentified sailor is accused of starting a fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego last July, having served as a crew member at the time of the incident, according to a statement from 3rd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson.

"Evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system. The Sailor was a member of Bonhomme Richard’s crew at the time and is accused of starting the fire," Robertson said.

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, the 3rd Fleet commander, confirmed that he is considering court-martial charges in relation to the incident, according to the statement obtained by ABC News.

Robinson confirmed the admiral has set a preliminary hearing prior to any 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," in the Navy's statement.

The Navy announced last year it planned to scrap the USS Bonhomme Richard after the fire took place, ABC News reports.

The assault ship was commissioned in 1998 and cost $750 million at the time, which is adjusted to $1.2 billion in 2020.

The days-long fire caused extensive damages to the ship -- which reached 1,000 degrees at times -- that were too much to repair.

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