United Kingdom

US Navy charges sailor for fire that destroyed the $750million USS Bonhomme Richard

The US Navy has charged a sailor with arson for setting fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard last July, destroying the $750million ship and injuring 63 people.  

The Navy has not released the name of the sailor, who was a member of the ship's crew at the time, according to a news release.

Officials said on Thursday that the sailor 'is accused of starting the fire' and 'evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing'. 

Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, the Third Fleet commander, is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing to determine any further action, as required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The US Navy has charged a sailor for the fire that destroyed the $750million USS Bonhomme Richard - injuring 63 people last July

The Navy has not released the name of the sailor, who was a member of the ship's crew

Officials said the sailor 'is accused of starting the fire' and that 'evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing'

'An impartial hearing officer will make determinations and recommendations required by the UCMJ prior to any further trial proceedings,' the release reads.

Those recommendations include whether there is probable cause to believe an offense has been committed.

Navy spokesman Sean Robertson told NPR that the sailor was charged with aggravated arson and the willful hazarding of a vessel. 

The United States Naval Institute noted that the sailor was questioned in August by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The sailor was released in November after being held in custody at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported earlier this month.

Photos show the charred insides of the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which burned for more than four days

Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, the Third Fleet commander, is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing to determine any further action

DailyMail.com has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for charging documents and other records related to the fire.

The disastrous blaze began July 12, 2020, while the Bonhomme Richard was docked in San Diego. 

It burned through 11 of the ship's 14 decks before it was finally able to be put out four days later.

There were 63 people injured in the fire, including 40 sailors and 23 civilians. The ship had a crew of 1,000 and about 160 sailors and officers had been onboard at the time of the fire.

The amphibious assault ship, which was undergoing maintenance at the time, was commissioned in 1998 for $750million - but was ultimately scrapped when the ship was deemed unsalvageable.

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