Sailor Denies Starting Fire That Destroyed USS Bonhomme Richard: Lawyer

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An lawyer speaking connected behalf of the Navy sailor accused of starting the occurrence connected the USS Bonhomme Richard past year said the sailor denies the allegations made against him.

Charges were brought distant against the sailor successful effect to grounds recovered during the transgression investigation, a Navy spokesperson said Thursday.

The occurrence was 1 of the worst to rip done a U.S. warship extracurricular of combat successful caller years, according to Navy officials.

Gary S. Barthel of the Military Law Center, who is simply a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, told NBC 7 connected Friday that his bureau had yet to person the find grounds successful the lawsuit against his client, which Barthel said is mean successful specified cases.

Barthel said that defence typically does not get find grounds until aft charges person been preferred. He did accidental that helium anticipated receiving that grounds successful the adjacent future. Once the sailor's ineligible squad has an accidental to reappraisal the lawsuit against him, Barthel added, a preliminary proceeding -- which has not yet been scheduled, according to the Navy -- volition beryllium held, during which a preliminary-hearing serviceman volition analyse grounds from some sides and find whether determination is probable origin to prosecute the case. If helium determines determination is not capable evidence, the lawsuit would beryllium dismissed. If that serviceman were to find determination was, successful fact, probable cause, past the lawsuit could past beryllium referred to a court-martial..

So far, small is known astir the fishy successful the case, different than the information that helium is simply a Seaman Apprentice Sailor E2. A petition to Barthel for further accusation astir him was declined.

U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs Officer Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson said determination was capable grounds to nonstop a "preliminary proceeding successful accordance with owed process nether the subject justness system."

The sailor was a subordinate of the Bonhomme Richard's unit astatine the clip and "is accused of starting the fire," Robertson said successful a quality merchandise sent retired connected Thursday afternoon.

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/crews-battle-3-alarm-blaze-on-military-assault-ship/2363877/

The sailor's preliminary proceeding volition apt not instrumentality spot for different week astatine least, the spokesperson said.

The occurrence began successful the ship's little retention area, wherever cardboard boxes, rags and different attraction supplies were stored. But winds coming disconnected the San Diego Bay whipped up the flames and the flames dispersed up the elevator shafts and exhaust stacks. The four-day inferno fought by hundreds of firefighters, including aggregate water-dropping helicopters.

Then 2 explosions — 1 heard arsenic acold arsenic 13 miles distant — caused it to turn adjacent bigger.

About 160 sailors were aboard the vessel astatine the clip of the occurrence and the full unit was capable to disembark; each sailor was aboriginal accounted for

The occurrence sent acrid fume billowing implicit San Diego, and officials recommended radical debar exercising outdoors.

About 160 sailors were aboard the vessel astatine the clip the occurrence was sparked and the were capable to disembark. At slightest 57 radical — 34 sailors and 23 civilians — were hospitalized with insignificant injuries, Naval Surface Forces said past year.

After the fire, the amphibious battle vessel was near with extended structural, electrical and mechanical harm and was aboriginal scrapped, costing the Navy billions of dollars.

Amphibious battle ships are among the fewer successful the U.S. fleet that tin enactment arsenic a mini craft carrier.

The Bonhomme Richard had been nearing the extremity of a two-year upgrade estimated to outgo $250 cardinal erstwhile the occurrence broke retired connected July 12, 2020. The 840-foot vas had been docked astatine Naval Base San Diego portion undergoing the upgrade.

In April, the vessel was decommissioned successful a backstage ceremonial astatine Naval Base San Diego.

The USS Bonhomme Richard was decommissioned aft a occurrence tore done the ship.

The Associated Press contributed to this study -- Ed.

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