A large fire engulfed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego’s naval base on Sunday, injuring at least one fire fighter and several sailors according to initial reports. The fire appeared to be confined to inside the ship’s upper decks and smoke billowed from much of the vessel as several small boats attempts to spray water to slow down the fire.
The Bonhomme Richard was launched in 1997 and is Wasp class landing helicopter dock (LHD) or amphibious assault ship, a type of ship built from the early 1980s to 2005. There are eight similar American ships, including the Kearsarge and Iwo Jima. It is capable of moving an entire US Marine Corps expeditionary unit and ships like this have routinely been deployed to the Persian Gulf and other areas. The Bonhomme Richard completed a mission in the Persian Gulf in 2005 and was again in the Gulf in 2007. She also deployed for operations in Iraq in 2003.
The ship is named after an earlier ship that fought in the US Revolutionary War and was commanded by John Paul Jones. It’s slogan, “I have not yet begun to fight,” is taken from the well-known battle in which Jones, on the Bonhomme Richard, fought the British HMS Serapis.
The fire aboard the Bonhomme Richard appears to be one of the worst US naval incidents in recent memory. The US navy has dealt with recent controversy when Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in April. In June 2017 the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship and seven sailors drowned.The cause of the blaze was not immediately apparent and the San Diego Fire Rescue Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.