Navy charges sailor in connection with USS Bonhomme Richard fire that destroyed warship

The Navy has charged a sailor in connection with the massive fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard warship over four days in 2020 while docked off San Diego, a naval spokesman said Thursday.

The unidentified sailor was a member of the ship’s crew and is accused of starting the July 12, 2020 blaze, the Navy said. The charges are based on evidence collected during an investigation, Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson, said in a statement.

“Evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system,” Robertson said.

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, is considering court-martial charges. He has ordered a preliminary hearing at which an impartial hearing officer will make determinations and recommendations required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 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,” the statement said.

Arson was suspected of causing the fire and a sailor was questioned, a senior defense official said weeks after the blaze. – READ MORE