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    1,000-Degree Fire Burns Aboard USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego

    1,000-Degree Fire Burns Aboard USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego

    Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck: “400 sailors have been on board that ship to make sure that… we make every effort to save that ship.”
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    Four hundred members of the US Navy are struggling valiantly to put out the 1000 degree fire burning aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, and officials are not sure when they will be able to put out the blaze.

    The fire has brought down the amphibious assault ship’s forward mast and caused other damage to the ship’s superstructure that rises above its flight deck.

    “There is a tremendous amount of heat underneath and that’s where it’s — it’s flashing up — also forward, closer to the bow again there’s a heat source and we’re trying to get to that as well,” Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 said at a news conference Monday in San Diego.

    The fire began where construction supplies were kept. The incident has led to the injury of over 50 personnel.

    The fire began shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday in a part of the vessel where cardboard and drywall supplies are kept, according to the Navy and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. After about 90 minutes, authorities decided to remove all firefighters from the vessel for safety reasons and battle the blaze by remote means, including water dropped from helicopters and sprayed onto the ship via firefighting boats surrounding it on the bay.

    About two hours after the fire began, a blast of unknown origin shook the vessel.

    “None of the (SDFRD) firefighters were on board the ship when the explosion happened, but the blast threw several firefighters off their feet,” the city department reported.

    A total of 57 crew members battling the blaze have suffered various injuries, mostly heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, according to Navy officials. Five have been hospitalized in stable condition.

    Meanwhile, acrid smoke from the blaze wafted across San Diego, and health officials urged people to stay indoors if they smelled it.

    The fire that erupted Sunday morning is one of the Navy’s worst shipyard fires in recent years. At least 57 people have been treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Five remained hospitalized under observation.

    Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said fire temperatures had reached up to 1,000 degrees, causing the mast to collapse and threatening the central

    Sobeck said it was too soon to give up on saving the 23-year-old amphibious assault ship, which has been docked in San Diego since 2018 undergoing maintenance.

    “In the last 24 hours, 400 sailors have been on board that ship to make sure that, you know, we make every effort to save that ship,” said Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3


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    According to the SD Union-Tribune, there’s 1 million gallons of fuel on it, but they’ve kept the fires away from that part of the ship.

    franker | July 14, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    On USS Midway off the coast of Vietnam it was a little unnerving to hear “Away the Flying Squad! Smoke in Aft Fuel Compartment!”


    teddy996 | July 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Sailorcurt is on the money, folks.

    When there’s yardwork afoot some systems may be disabled, some spaces may have been made unable to be watertight, some dampers may have been locked open. For that reason yard fires can be exceptionally hard to fight if they get past incipient stage.

    I was stationed on the George Washington back in the day and we had the Kearsarge catch on fire in drydock. Almost the exact same deal. Since we were docked in the pier adjacent to the drydock, they had to borrow our personnel and gear for firefighting as most firefighting systems on board require sea water to operate. By the time we got her put out, her flight deck was warped and their drydock stay was extended for a year.

    As far as the million gallons of fuel: Fuel is stored low and the lines that run topside are purged after use. The fire is miles away from it. In addition, the navy uses JP-5, which, as it is a form of diesel, is resistant to combustion from temperature.

    Tom: navy runs pressurized water reactors only. The only things that we run into that can’t be handled easily are magnesium fires on aircraft. If an aircraft sparks up, they get the deep six.

    As it’s sinking, name it the USS Obama.

    gospace | July 15, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    As several people have speculated- it is fact. The fire main was down. With the fire main down, no AFFF- aqueous fire fighting foam – which would probably have put a quick end to it.

    Portable fire extinguishers are the first ones on scene in any fire. IIRC, the rule was, if the first 3 expended didn’t extinguish the fire- you had a problem on your hands. In my limited experience, the first one usually was enough.

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