Forbes (USA): burned amphibious assault ship “Bonhomme Richard” — apparently due to violations of fire safety

On Sunday a large fire, apparently caused by safety violations during routine maintenance on the pier, and destroyed the ship “Bonhomme Richard” (Bonhomme Richard LHD-6) is one of the 10 krupnoplodnyh amphibious ships of the U.S. Navy. These ships are an integral part of the U.S. Navy, aimed at the containment of a resurgent China. The loss of the ship worth billions of dollars — and this outcome is highly likely to hurt the rest of the fleet.

The first reports about the fire came in about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. After seven hours the fire on the ship still ablaze. On the ship, held maintenance in San Diego, at the time of the accident was about 160 sailors. According to reports, eighteen people were hospitalized with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Although the extent of the damage [of the ship] is unknown, the fire was so powerful that it bent the steel frame and melted tires on vehicles parked on the flight deck. Given the extent of the damage, repairs will take several years. Not excluded and a complete write-off [of the ship].

Fires in the shipyard can be prevented

The cause of the fire to be seen, but we can say that the fires in the shipyard is a serious problem for the U.S. Navy. Only in the last few months on the US Navy ships during maintenance broke out a few fires — however, the command seems to ignore this problem, preferring to gloat and point fingers, when fires in the shipyard was almost destroyed in 2019 the Russian [aircraft carrier ship] “Admiral Kuznetsov”, and at the beginning of this year — one of the newest Chinese amphibious ships of the type 075. The inaction of the US Navy — especially after a series of warnings is inexplicable and inexcusable.

But, despite numerous alarm bells over the last few years, the US Navy still has serious problems with safety and maintenance shipyards. Here’s what I wrote at the end of 2019: “While the U.S. Navy after two accidents with a fatal outcome in 2017, conducted maneuvers for navigation, the Navy not only suffered perhaps the largest loss of equipment accidents at the shipyards in 2012, which could have been avoided, but almost did not put effort to eliminate the consequences.”

At the time of writing this article, the “Bonhomme Richard” tipped the nose over water, which he poured from hoses.

The U.S. Navy was faced with the harsh reality of fire safety. Fires and accidents will occur as long as either some ship will not sink at all, and seamen did not die, either in the command structure seriously is not charged with preventing such incidents.

If it turns out that the cause of the incident was the failure of a simple, albeit time-consuming rules of fire safety, all starting with the admirals, it is necessary to immediately point to the door.

Not to say that the Navy had not received earlier warnings. “Bonhomme Richard”, ironically, stood in front of the pier where it was moored “Fitzgerald” (USS Fitzgerald DDG 62), recently completed a long-term repair after a collision at sea in 2017. During that incident, people died. The captain of the “Fitzgerald” was seriously concerned about fire safety. The media got his report in which he noted more than 15 cases of violations of fire safety in the dock — including the “poorly equipped firefighters of shift”, “fire on deck”, “the use of combustible materials”, and “previously undetected ignition and wiring damage.”

One of the main purposes of the Navy — survival on the battlefield. In this regard, it is interesting to know were the captain of the “Bonhomme Richard” the same interest in the safety of his ship, which has just been upgrade to operate F-35B the next generation. The cost of such aircraft is $ 250 million per unit.

Fires on the pier sank the whole US Navy

The only thing I’m afraid the sailors even more than fire at sea, a fire at the dock. Modernization at the shipyard — perhaps one of the most dangerous moments for any vehicle. When refurbishing of the ship security system is often down, the most important passages littered with cables and other flammable materials, and the sailors decide the whole complex of maintenance tasks, often under stress, lack of time and total savings. In such an environment, failure to follow safety procedures is fraught with disaster.

The U.S. Navy was faced with this too often. In 2012, America has lost billions of dollars attacking a submarine “Miami” (USS Miami SSN 755) as a result of fire that occurred due to the actions of a worker who wanted to go home as soon as possible. In the past year 11 U.S. sailors injured in a fire on Board small landing craft “Iwo Jima” (USS Iwo Jima LHD 7). In November 2018, from the fire affected the “Oscar Austin” (USS Oscar Austin DDG 79), and because of the damage to the ship will be laid up for nearly two years longer than planned. According to USNI News, “Fitzgerald” also suffered from a fire at the shipyard. In 2011 lit warehouse on the ship “Spruance” (USS Spruance DDG 111). In addition, a list of recent accidents includes damage to more than $ 30 million under construction destroyer “Delbert black” (DDG 119) after the collision in April 2019. Along with other incidents, of which it was possible to prevent fires at sea, landings aground, collisions and so on — these accidents destroyed or knocked out a whole battle fleet of the United States.

The us Navy time to Wake up

If it turns out that the last fire could have been avoided, the effects should be applied to all without exception levels of the command chain. The Navy lost too many ships and tried to hush up too many flagrant violations of fire safety. From accidents nobody is insured, but if the cause of this fire will be a wilful disregard of the basic rules of fire safety, now is the time is significant to punish the commanders, under whose connivance this has happened. This is the only way to draw attention to the prevention of accidents that could have been prevented.

These disasters will stop at the dock just solid leadership. Without discipline, the workers of the shipyards demonstrate a disregard for security issues. And if the Navy will look the other way, then to act up to the Congress to focus on the prevention of incidents that can be avoided.

Frankly, America has enough other problems on the sea to still worry about how workers maintenance not sunk precious fleet America at home.