Navy ship could ‘burn for days’ in San Diego

Other ships are being moved away from the burning USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, as 21 were injured in an explosion and fire in San Diego yesterday, with San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell, saying the ship could burn for days, “down to the water line”.

There were 160 people on board when the fire started, according to the Naval Surface Forces. The ship, which has a crew of 1,000, was undergoing maintenance.

It’s unclear what started the fire. When the fire was first reported Sunday morning, it was said to be in the lower vehicle storage area, says Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, a “huge, open area where you store a lot of marine equipment and everything else”.

There is no ordnance on board, Sobeck said, “which was our initial concern” in ensuring safety on and around the ship.

A safety zone has been set up around the ship.

It’s unclear what caused the explosion although initial reports, according to Sobeck, indicated a “sort of a backdraft” or over-pressurisation as the compartment started heating up.

The ship had about a million gallons of fuel, but the Rear Adm. says it’s “well below” many of the heat sources.

As of Sunday evening, firefighters were “at the seat of the fire, if you will,” says Sobeck. He says the firefighters are clearing compartment spaces in order to close in on the fire, and “sailors across this waterfront are absolutely doing a magnificent job. They are saving their ship. We’re seeing just incredible results.

“We’re absolutely going to make sure it sails again,” he told CNN.

“She was in a stage of repair anyway, so we’re just gonna get right back at it once we get this thing contained and put out.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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