The amphibious assault ship burned for more than four days. It suffered extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage and was subsequently scrapped. Estimates to replace it were US $ 4 billion. The sailor was a member of the crew at the time, Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a spokesman for the U.S. 3rd Fleet, said in a statement. The sailor has been charged with aggravated arson and willfully endangering a ship, Robertson said. No name has been released.
No further details were provided and it was not clear what evidence had been found or what the motive was.
Amphibious assault ships are among the few in the US fleet that can serve as mini aircraft carriers.
Le Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated at US $ 250 million when the fire broke out on July 12, 2020.
About 160 sailors and officers were on board when the flames projected a huge plume of black smoke from the 256-meter ship, which had been docked at Naval Base San Diego during the upgrade.
The fire started in the ship’s lower storage area, where cardboard boxes, rags and other maintenance supplies were stored. But winds from San Diego Bay fanned the flames, and the flames spread through elevator shafts and exhaust stacks.
Then two explosions – including one heard more than 20 kilometers away – made it grow even more.
The blaze sent acrid smoke over San Diego, and officials advised people to avoid exercising outdoors.
Firefighters attacked the flames inside the ship, while firefighting ships equipped with water cannons directed jets of seawater into the ship and helicopters made raindrops. water.
More than 60 sailors and civilians were treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.