- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2020

The Navy has decided to scrap an amphibious assault ship that was heavily damaged in a devastating July fire that raged for nearly a week as the ship was docked in San Diego.

The decision to decommission the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard was made because restoring the Wasp-class ship would cost more than $3 billion and take 5-to-7 years to complete, Navy officials said Monday. According to published reports, dismantling the ship would cost about $30 million.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite said in a statement. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.”

The fire broke out in mid-July while the ship was undergoing repairs. It was believed to have started in an area where Marine Corps combat vehicles are stored. The blaze raged for several days with hundreds of firefighters - both military and civilian - being pressed into service. Dozens of personnel were treated for minor injuries, such as smoke inhalation.

The Navy also explored other possibilities for the Bonhomme Richard, including converting it to a hospital ship or submarine tender. That idea was discarded because of the cost, which would have likely exceeded $1 billion - a price tag as much or more than a new ship.

“Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Mr. Braithwaite said.

The Navy will salvage any systems and components from the Bonhomme Richard that can be used in other ships. The timeline for the dismantlement is still being finalized, officials said.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing, officials said.

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