Although the US Navy reports ‘significant progress’ in fighting the fire on board the USS Bonhomme Richard, it may yet take days to get it under control. Fire fighting including aerial operations by US Navy helicopters continued throughout the night.
Fire fighting on board the wasp-class amphibious assault ship has now continued over the past 48 hours and is carried out by the Federal Fire Department San Diego, US Navy Sailors and crews from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3. So far, 59 personnel, 36 US Navy Sailors and 23 civilians have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalised.
Earlier on, Federal Fire San Diego Division Chief Rob Bondurant said there were ‘two firefighting teams fighting the fire aboard the ship. Federal Fire is rotating their crews aboard the ship with US Navy firefighting crews from the waterfront to fight the fire in order to find the seat of the fire and extinguish it. Also, Navy Region Southwest tugs are also continuously combatting the fire from the bay.’
Safety and environmental precautions
‘While the United States Navy continues to effect response actions to quell the fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, the United States Coast Guard continues to assess environmental sensitivities and has contracted an Oil Spill Response Organisation to preemptively deploy protective boom to guard against any potential environmental concerns,’ stated Cmdr. Chris Wright, Response Department Head, Coast Guard Sector San Diego.
‘A one-nautical mile safety zone has been established to ensure the safety of the maritime public. Additionally, a one-nautical mile temporary flight-restriction zone from surface to 3000 feet altitude has been established to maintain the safety of all firefighting aircraft. Neighbouring marinas are also currently being advised to utilise protective safety measures. The safety of first responders, protection of the marine environment and the uninterrupted flow of commerce remain the highest concerns to the Coast Guard. Responders will continue to monitor and assess potential environmental concerns and adjust response actions to ensure the safety and security of the maritime public and the marine environment.’
The origin of the fire is still unknown and is pending investigation.