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U.S. Navy Charges Sailor in Connection with USS Bonhomme Richard Blaze

U.S. Navy Charges Sailor in Connection with USS Bonhomme Richard Blaze

The man remains unidentified. The amphibious assault ship burned for more than four days.

Last July, a 1,100 degree fire blazed aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard.

In a recent post about my concerns about American military readiness and priorities, I noted that the ship had been decommissioned in April and the investigation was winding down.

Now the Navy has charged a sailor in connection with the fire that seared the amphibious assault ship over the course of four days.

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.

A court martial is also being considered.

The charges against the seaman apprentice are aggravated arson under Article 126 of the Uniorom [sic] Code of Military Justice and hazarding a vessel under Article 110, USNI News has learned. The charges “were brought forth against a Navy sailor in response to evidence found during the criminal investigation into the fire started on USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) on July 12, 2020.”

…“Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, who commands 3rd Fleet, is considering court-martial charges and has directed a preliminary hearing at which an impartial hearing officer will make determinations and recommendations required by the UCMJ prior to any further trial proceedings – 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,” [Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesperson in San Diego] said.

The Bonhomme Richard had been nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated to cost $250 million when the fire broke out.

About 160 sailors and officers were on board when the flames sent up a huge plume of dark smoke from the 840-foot vessel, which had been docked at Naval Base San Diego while undergoing the upgrade.

The fire started in the ship’s lower storage area, where cardboard boxes, rags and other maintenance supplies were stored. But winds coming off the San Diego Bay whipped up the flames and the flames spread up the elevator shafts and exhaust stacks.

Then two explosions — one heard as far as 13 miles away — caused it to grow even bigger.

I only hope that the trial is focused on evidence and real justice, rather than social justice and critical race theory.


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I hope the investigation found real evidence and that this poor slob is not the scapegoat.
There is a reason that the Navy mascot is a goat….

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to NoFlow. | July 31, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    In all likelihood he is a scapegoat. Low-rank are expendable, especially if the career of an Officer From A Good Family has a career at stake.

    Olinser in reply to NoFlow. | July 31, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    Given that it’s literally been a FUCKING YEAR since it happened, and they’re only just now conducting a ‘preliminary hearing’, I seriously doubt they have actual real evidence. Real evidence doesn’t take a year to gather.

    Sounds like they found a scapegoat that did something wrong that they can claim sort of kind of may have possibly started the fire and get him to plead out so they stop looking like the complete incompetent morons they are.

Which, when you think about it, a goat..
Not a shark, killer whale, even a dolphin

A goat

Well, I just read up on the “goat” and why it was selected

Sorry, still don’t get it

    Valerie in reply to gonzotx. | July 31, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    It’s a biblical reference. The sins of people would be transferred to an innocent animal, and then the animal would be killed, as an offering to God.

Uniorom Code of Military Justice


Does anybody trust the military with a useful idiot like Lloyd Austin “in charge”?

This shows that these ships need to be redesigned to make them more survivable when hit by enemy munitions. It also shows that the captain should be court martial ed for having flammables stored in a hold unnecessarily.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to ConradCA. | July 31, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    The ship was in for a re-fit. A discuission with the contractors regarding safety procedures is in order.

    Sanddog in reply to ConradCA. | August 1, 2021 at 12:18 am

    Ships are actually pretty darned resilient. This particular ship was in port for a refit so many of the systems were, necessarily off line. Only 160 crew members were on board, compared with 1,000 when the ship sails. Cables were running through doors and passageways, making sealing the compartments problematic. Fires are always a danger during refits from welding, etc.. No one is going to station a fire team below decks in an area where hot work isn’t being done. The fire started in a lower storage area where cardboard boxes, rags and maintenance supplies were stored. Ships ALWAYS have flammable or hazardous materials onboard. They are necessary for continuing maintenance.

1st A Court Martial, do you think?
Next seen a few articles now and not a name, could it be they are hiding that little fact?

    henrybowman in reply to Skip. | July 31, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    It’s the same guy who shot Ashli Babbitt.
    Blank Blank, International Man of Mystery.

Has to be a white racist


    lichau in reply to gonzotx. | July 31, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Name not released. A “tell”.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to lichau. | July 31, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Richard Jewell.

      gospace in reply to lichau. | July 31, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      Yep. I see in the comments a seaman apprentice- one step up from the bottom. If he was in <18 months, SA would be an appropriate rank. More than 18 months? He's a screw up. Promotion from SR to SA to SN is automatic, at 9 month intervals.

The BLM-Antifa terrorism is a bigger danger to us than the Chinese at this point. They have the ability to cripple our ability to fight a war.

This Sailor is almost certainly toast. Enjoy military prison.

    gonzotx in reply to CommoChief. | July 31, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Unless he’s a gay/trans black

      CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | July 31, 2021 at 9:44 pm

      Nope. That doesn’t matter here. Why? He broke some Admirals toy, an expensive one at that. If it was violence against a fellow service member then the usual excuses might fly. Break expensive DoD toys? Not so much.

Or muslim… if Christian, doesn’t have a prayer

“The government would never charge an innocent man with a crime just to cover up their investigatory failures.”
–Richard Jewell

I’m not convinced a court martial will go forward. After all, nobody in 7th Fleet or PACFLT had the guts to hold an actual court martial on the OOD and CICWO of the Fitzgerald who were directly responsible for the deaths of ten of their shipmates through their watchstanding negligence. Two and a half hours that cargo ship was CBDR and nobody noticed. I hope it haunts them every day.

    gospace in reply to Dave. | July 31, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    CBDR- for those who aren’t familiar- constant bearing, decreasing range. It means you’re headed for each other.

    The thing about (most) collisions at sea- they happen very slowly and are completely avoidable- up until the last minute when they happen very quickly and cannot be stopped.

If you’re interested and have the time, Republican lawmakers Sen. Tom Cotton, Representatives Jim Banks, Dan Crenshaw, and Mike Gallagher commissioned a study on perceived command failures in the USN’s Surface Warfare Community. It was overseen by LTGEN Robert E. Schmidle, USMC (Ret) and RADM Mark Montgomery, USN (Ret) and you can read perversely titled report on their findings here:

“A Report On The Fighting Culture Of The United States Navy Surface Fleet”

Why perversely titled? Because according to the findings, there is no fighting culture. It’s worse than you can imagine. It is instead a culture that values administrative chores over training to fight, ship commanders that are micromanaged and an aversion to risk due to a zero-defects mentality. It’s a little remembered fact that Chester Nimitz as an Ensign in command of USS Decatur (DD5) ran his ship aground on a mudbank off the Philippines. He was relieved of command, court martialed, and found guilty of “neglect of duty.”

This is notable for a couple of reasons. First, can anyone imagine the USN today giving a 22 y.o. Ensign command of anything let alone a destroyer?!?! And this didn’t end his career; he defended himself at court martial; he argued that destroyer skippers had to be willing to take risks and apparently that earned him some credit with court.

Can anyone imagine how WWII would have turned out without him? I can’t imagine any of the Admirals who won WWII could have survived the micromanaging, ass-covering mediocrities, ass-kissing, social justice warriors running the USN today. Halsey was a hard drinker, could be pig-headed, and was overly aggressive as many of his actions in WWII demonstrated. He foolishly pulled his 3rd fleet, that should have been guarding the landings at Leyte Gulf by covering the San Bernardino Straight, to chase after Ozawa’s pathetic decoy force, nearly leading to disaster at Leyte Gulf. And he foolishly crossed the T of Typhoon Cobra and lost three destroyers that capsized and sank (that’s an expensive way to learn that the Fletcher class needed to keep their fuel tanks at least 3/4 full if they’re going to keep their keels down in a typhoon), 146 aircraft, and 793 Sailors; the largest unanswered loss in USN history.

ADM King was the COMINCH; Command in Chief, U.S. Fleet; the operational commander of the entire USN (when he took over the job the acronym was CINCUS but he didn’t like inviting foreign navies to “sink us”). Like Halsey he was a notorious boozer. He was also a known womanizer and had been his entire career. In fact, during the war Congress often inquired as to why they were maintaining essentially two official residences. Before the VP took it over his official residence was the mansion at the Naval Observatory in D.C. His “flagship” however was a converted yacht moored somewhere on the Potomac. The Navy came up with something approaching a reasonable answer but everyone in the Navy knew it was BS. The real reason was he kept his wife at the mansion, and his mistresses on his yacht.

As the traditional Navy toast goes, “To our wives and sweethearts! May they never meet.”

Sorry for going down this rabbit hole; but it is part of the main point. These guys would have been drummed out of the Navy today by seniors who are clearly their inferiors. For them warfighting is an afterthought. The main job is responding to press and more importantly Congressional pressure.

Until I learn otherwise, my default position this Sailor is being scapegoated. It isn’t because he’s enlisted. The USN always scapegoats the guy at the lowest level of the chain of command who can plausibly sustain the hit. And if that’s an officer, so be it as far as the ass covering Admirals are concerned. They always try to play this crap off as isolated unit-level failures instead of a part of a broader systemic failure; they walk on water as far as they’re concerned. So the system they created can’t be at fault.

For the above study, the researchers interviewed 77 current and retired surface Sailors (officer and enlisted). 94% said high profile mishaps such as the 2016 surrender of the Riverine Command Boats to the IRGC, the 2017 destroyer/cruiser collisions that killed 17 Sailors, and of particular interest the pier-side fire aboard the Bon Homme Richard that took FOUR FREAKING DAYS to put out at least partially on the broader culture and failure at the senior leadership level.

55% said there is a direct connection between culture, leadership failure, and incidents. These are not mere unit level failures. This accused Sailor does have hope. Responding to Congressional pressure to “do something” i.e. point the finger of blame at somebody (but never, ever at the loser staring back in the mirror) the Navy charged the skippers of the DDGs USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain with involuntary manslaughter. The charges were later withdrawn.

In another shameful incident that should give this Sailor hope is that following a fatal incident in which one Sailor was lost (that’s not the hopeful part, obviously) when the USS San Antonio (LPD-17) was conducting small boat operations during 2009 anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden the USN charged the CO and XO with misconduct. The CO accepted a letter of reprimand at Admiral’s Mast. The XO, LCDR Sean Kearns, demanded court martial where he was acquitted of all charges.

You see, there were let us say more than a few fatal flaws in the case the Navy was trying to make against LCDR Kearns. One of the charges was that Kearns was derelict in his duty since he wasn’t on the starboard bridge wing supervising the launch of the RHIB.

Here’s a picture of the San Antonio.

You can see the RHIB roughly in the center of the superstructure, below the stack. Since the amphib is supposed to be “stealthy” it has it’s own compartment within the superstructure. You can also see the starboard bridge wing. Thanks to the curve of the superstructure you CAN’T EFFIN EVEN SEE THAT COMPARTMENT FROM THE BRIDGE WING. It would have made absolutely no difference if Kearns had been where Big Navy said he should have been standing. Big Navy knows so little about the ships they’re forcing into the fleet that never occurred to them.

Perhaps if it had they would have thought to write up some procedures about how to launch the RHIB. That was another part of Kearns’ defense; they were ordered underway without a complete set of manuals. Which was part of Kearns’ broader strategy of pointing out that the Navy ordered them to accept the ship even though it was woefully unready for sea.

As evidenced by the fact it was forced in port in 2008 for unscheduled repairs due to leaks in it’s lube oil piping. And in 2009, just before the fatal small boat mishap, while transiting the Suez Canal one of the two prop shafts while at full power suddenly went into reverse all on its own.

You might expect leaky pipes on a 20 y.o. ship. But the San Antonio was launched in 2003. She started falling apart almost immediately.

So, yes, this Sailor is no doubt getting scapegoated. But the good new for him is that the Navy seems to be no better at building cases that will get you convicted at a court martial by a jury of your peers than they are at building ships (let alone an entire Navy) that can sustain combat.

A Theory
I wonder if the JAG assigned to this case is exploring all legal or other, creative avenues more, perhaps, at the indirect behest of George Soros rather than straightforwardly according to what is objectively, impartially, and fairly laid out for this crime in the UCMJ. After all, with said Code being newly viewed as racially biased and effectively oppressive on its face, the exposure of such ugly, racist purpose and character is long ripe, even overdue in the annals of US Naval jurisprudence. So, why wait any longer (to widen and accelerate the revolution)?

Richard Aubrey | August 1, 2021 at 6:02 pm

Took half a century to clear McVay’s name in the matter of the Indianapolis. The Navy was trying to cover up their dereliction in control and contact.

Considerably less time to clear the goat in the Iowa turret explosion. Again, a cover up by the brass.

Here are a couple of articles I’ve saved. Things were bad when I retired in 2008. But they’ve gone from bad to worse under the leftists.

“Sailors leaving Navy over stress on social issues, Top Gun instructor says”

The interesting thing I found about this article was who wrote it, what command he was detaching from, and where he was heading.

CDR Guy Snodgrass was detaching from the office of the CNO at the Pentagon. Specifically, he was a speechwriter for the CNO. He was enroute his first squadron command.

In other words, this pushback against the Obama administration’s emphasis on social engineering as the Navy’s top priority, above all other possible alternative priorities including warfighting, was coming from the very top.

“GAO: Navy Struggling to Retain Surface Warfare Officers; SWOs Want More Training, Specialization”

And the SWOs don’t want more SAPR/SJW training. That’s not at all what they or anyone wants.