Fire-damaged USS Bonhomme Richard decommissioned in San Diego ceremony

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SAN DIEGO – The Navy ship that was damaged in a massive fire last year has been decommissioned.

In a ceremony held Wednesday at Naval Base San Diego, Navy officials announced the retirement of the USS Bonhomme Richard, the amphibious assault ship ravaged by a fire that burned for four days last summer. The ship is expected to be towed to a ship yard, possibly in Galveston, Texas, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

According to the Navy, Wednesday’s ceremony, which was closed to the general public, highlighted the ship’s history and its legacy.

“(The original Bonhomme Richard) Sailors gave their all to prevail against seemingly impossible odds, and they won,” said Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, in a statement. “They taught us that you don’t always save the ship, but you never stop fighting. The reputation of that fighting spirit began to proceed our Navy wherever we sailed and that same spirit persists today.”

Most of the ship’s sailors have been reassigned or are in the transferring process, Naval Surface Force Pacific spokeswoman Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman told the Union-Tribune.

The Navy explored three options for the ship, including repairing it to full mission-capabilities, but ultimately determined that repairs would be too costly. It was expected to take up to seven years to repair the ship at a cost of between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion.

Last year, the Navy said decommissioning the Bonhomme Richard will cost about $30 million.

More than 400 sailors assisted federal firefighters in putting out the blaze, which broke out July 12, 2020 and sent odorous fumes and thick plumes of dark smoke high into the air that was visible from miles away. It took four days until the Navy announced the fire had been extinguished.

A senior defense official said in August that arson was suspected as the cause of fire.

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