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Fire is still burning on USS Bonhomme Richard, cause unknown

U.S. Navy officials worked on Monday to determine what caused a massive fire on USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship that injured 17 seafarers and four civilians.

Much of the fire that still burns Monday morning is still unknown, including the extent of the damage to the ship docked at the San Diego Naval Base. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that an Expeditionary Strike Group 3 commander said early theory says that the fire started in a lower hold.

Citing an email from the Navy, the newspaper reported that 13 seafarers were in a stable condition. According to the report, two federal firefighters were also hospitalized.

The fire was reported on the ship shortly before 9:00 a.m., Krishna Jackson, the base̵

7;s information officer, said. Later on Sunday, the Navy announced that two guided missile destroyers had been removed from Bonhomme Richard after it caught fire. One of the warships that was forced to change berths was the USS Fitzgerald, which had just returned to the fleet after a collision at sea off the coast of Japan three years ago, in which seven seafarers were killed.

Because of its age (23), a fire could be particularly destructive, especially if it gets into the engine room and other confined spaces with machines, said Lawrence B. Brennan, professor of admiralty and international maritime law at Fordham University in New York.

“The heat from a fire like this can warp the steel, and that can be a big problem for any ship,” said Brennan. “It’s even more of a problem on an older ship.”


The newspaper quoted a naval officer and said the ship was being repaired.

Bradford Betz of Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this report

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