The US Navy has announced its decision to dismantle the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) which was heavily damaged in a massive fire earlier this year.
The fire that burned for five days and engulfed 14 of the ship’s decks resulted in damages that have now proven to be too costly to repair. The fire on the ship broke out on July 12 while it was pierside in San Diego, California.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “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.”
It has taken the navy several months to decide on the fate of the 22-year old ship. While navy officials repeatedly said the ship could be definitely repaired, questions remained on whether that would be a sensible way forward. According to USNI News report, the navy thinks that repairing the ship would not be worth it.
As outlined by Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, the commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center and the director of surface ship maintenance and modernization, the navy had three options available. The first one would allow the ship to return to its original role at a cost of between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion. The second one was to rebuild the ship for a new role, such as a hospital ship, with an estimated price tag of over one billion dollars. Both options required between five and seven years of work, according to the report.
The navy opted for the third solution, which is to decommission the ship for some $30 million and complete that work within a year. The navy has already spent $10 million for the fire clean-up, awarding National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO) the contract for the job.
It is worth adding that USS Bonhomme Richard had completed a costly upgrade that would have allowed it to operate F-35B fighter jets several months before the fire outbreak.
Ver Hage noted that investigations into the fire were still underway, adding that the ship was already being prepared for towing. Although the timeline for towing and dismantlement are still being finalized, the navy said it is already performing an inactivation availability that will remove systems and components for use in other ships.
USS Bonhomme Richard had been scheduled to serve the navy well into the 2030s.