The report is out on the USS Bonhomme Richard ship fire…
The Navy’s command investigation into the fire that destroyed the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard last summer stresses that failures to fight the fire lay across several commands and leadership levels.
That shared blame can be found in the report’s “accountability” section, which recommends disciplinary action against 36 Navy officials, from the amphib’s enlisted ranks up to the former three-star head of Naval Surface Force Pacific.
Full article, HERE from the Navy Times.
There were four key focus areas to this final outcome:
- Material Condition. Throughout the maintenance period, the material condition of the ship was significantly degraded, to include heat detection capability, communications equipment, shipboard firefighting systems, miscellaneous gear clutter, and combustible material accumulation. To illustrate the extent of degradation, on the morning of the fire, 87% of the ship’s fire stations remained in inactive equipment maintenance status.
- Training and Readiness. The training and readiness of Ship’s Force was marked by a pattern of failed drills, minimal crew participation, an absence of basic knowledge on firefighting in an industrial environment, and unfamiliarity on how to integrate supporting civilian firefighters. To illustrate this point, the crew had failed to meet the time standard for applying firefighting agent on the seat of the fire on 14 consecutive occasions leading up to 12 July 2020.
- Shore Establishment Support. The integration and support expected by the shore establishment did not adhere to required standards. Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) did not meet their requirements associated with fire safety and, in doing so, failed to communicate risk to leadership while facilitating unmitigated deviations from technical directives. Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) failed to ensure its civilian firefighters were familiar with Navy vessels on the installation, verify they were trained to respond to a shipboard fire, or effectively practice how to support Ship’s Force and simultaneously integrate responding mutual aid assets.
- Oversight. Ineffective oversight by the cognizant Commanders across various organizations permitted their subordinates to take unmitigated risk in fire preparedness. A significant source of this problem was an absence of codification of the roles and responsibilities expected by each organization in their oversight execution.
A lot of this merely confirms what we were discussing when this happened. Dammit…
A part of the bigger picture, IMHO, is the ‘rush’ to fix things because the ships are behind in their maintenance and drydock space/shipyard space are at a premium, and have been for a couple of years due to lack of $$$$ for maintenance/upgrades of ships.
And maybe, just MAYBE, some folks will be held accountable up the chain this time! This is truly a leadership and training failure, and it is listed in print for all to see.