WASHINGTON — More than 30 sailors have suffered minor injuries from the fire that broke out Sunday and firefighters continue battle aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, Calif.
As of Monday morning, 34 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated for minor injuries, said Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokeswoman with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Of the 17 sailors who were hospitalized Sunday, five sailors have remained in the medical facility for observation and are in stable condition.
So far, minor injuries include heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, according to Schwegman.
A fire was reported aboard the amphibious assault ship at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday while it was moored at the pier, said Mike Raney, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the origin of an explosion that also occurred on the ship Sunday is still unknown, The Associated Press reported.
Firefighting operations continued aboard the ship through the night and two helicopters with water buckets were brought in to help, according to the Navy.
At the time of the fire about 160 sailors were on the ship, which was undergoing maintenance, according to Raney. The ship typically has a crew of about 1,000.
Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, called the fire “a terrible tragedy.”
"We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base, and shipboard firefighters aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. Our thoughts and prayers are with our [Bonhomme Richard] sailors, their families, and our emergency responders who continue to fight the fire. Godspeed," he said in a statement.
Two nearby ships, the USS Fitzgerald and the USS Russell, had to move away from the pier Sunday afternoon because of the fire. The USS Fitzgerald had just arrived in San Diego July 2, according to U.S. Naval Institute News, after undergoing more than two years of restoration and modernization following the deadly 2017 collision that killed seven sailors.
Photo Credit: CHRISTINA ROSS/U.S. NAVY