The U.S. Navy announced Monday it will decommission, rather than repair or repurpose, the USS Bonhomme Richard because of extensive damage from a fire while the vessel was in port. The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship was docked in San Diego when a fire broke out on July 12. It took five days to extinguish the inferno.
Ultimately, 40 sailors and 23 civilians were treated for minor injuries, according to the Navy. The ship was not so fortunate.
Repairing or repurposing the ship, according to Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, would be a billion-dollar battle.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Braithwaite said in a statement. “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.”
The Navy determined that the cost of restoring the ship could exceed $3 billion and it would take five to seven years from start to finish. Rebuilding and repurposing the ship could exceed $1 billion. The Navy says it could construct a new hospital ship, submarine tender, or command-and-control ship for the same price, or less.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but NPR previously reported that the Navy questioned a sailor in connection with the incident. The Navy said investigations are ongoing.
The 844-foot ship had an illustrious career over its 20-plus years of service. It participated in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The USS Bonhomme Richard also aided in humanitarian efforts in Indonesia and Japan.
The timeline for dismantling the ship is still…