Navy Has Yet to Explain Cause of Bonhomme Richard Fire, Nearly a Year Later


Adjunct Professor Lawrence Brennan was quoted in an article by NavyTimes regarding the mysterious cause of last year’s fire on the Bonhomme Richard ship. 

As the one-year anniversary approaches of a hellacious fire that destroyed the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard as it sat pierside in San Diego, the Navy has yet to explain how the devastating peacetime loss of the big-deck amphib happened, but answers may be coming soon.


The fact that nearly a year has passed with the Navy offering no explanation for the peacetime loss of a warship raises questions, according to Lawrence Brennan, a retired Navy captain and professor at the Fordham University Law School.

“There could be legitimate reasons, but in the absence of any explanation, it’s unusual,” Brennan told Navy Times.

“I can’t see something holding it up for the year,” he added. “And if there is, tell us. Tell us you can’t tell us.”

Many past investigations of ship calamities that were more deadly and more damaging did not take as long, he noted.

Brennan was the legal officer for the aircraft carrier Nimitz when that ship suffered a deck fire in 1981 that killed 14 sailors and wounded nearly 50.

“We did the investigation into the casualty, and under deadlines from (then-Navy Secretary) John Lehman, finished the report within five weeks,” Brennan told Navy Times.

Investigations were also promptly held and wrapped up during World War II following “Halsey’s Typhoon” in December 1944, a storm that sank several Pacific Fleet ships and killed nearly 800 sailors.

If the Navy is getting ready to prosecute one or more sailors for starting the Bonhomme Richard blaze, that might account for the delay, Brennan said.

The Associated Press and other outlets reported last summer that authorities were questioning a sailor on suspicion of arson.

Brennan said looming charges might explain the slow-rolling of answers regarding what happened to Bonhomme Richard.

Read the full article.


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