These are the first pictures from inside the charred amphibious warship HSS Bonhomme Richard after a fire tore through the 844-foot vessel off San Diego harbor last Sunday. 

More than 160 people had been aboard when the blaze erupted at 8:30am local time. It had been undergoing maintenance when the fire was first reported in a lower cargo area where seafaring tanks are parked.

Now new pictures taken inside the Navy ship by @Osinttechnical and confirmed as verified to The Navy Times show the ‘extensive damage’ caused by the blaze which burned for more than four days. It is not yet known if the ship will sail again. 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has pledged a thorough investigation into the Navy’s worst U.S. warship fire outside of combat in recent memory. He said: ‘I was able to get a good sense of the damage and the damage is extensive.’

These are the first pictures from inside the charred amphibious warship HSS Bonhomme Richard after a fire tore through it

These are the first pictures from inside the charred amphibious warship HSS Bonhomme Richard after a fire tore through it

More than 160 people had been aboard when the blaze erupted at 8:30am last Sunday. It had been undergoing maintenance when the fire was first reported in a lower cargo area where seafaring tanks are parked

More than 160 people had been aboard when the blaze erupted at 8:30am last Sunday. It had been undergoing maintenance when the fire was first reported in a lower cargo area where seafaring tanks are parked

Now new pictures taken inside the Navy ship by @Osinttechnical show the 'extensive damage' caused by the blaze which burned for more than four days off San Diego harbor. It is not yet known if the ship will sail again

Now new pictures taken inside the Navy ship by @Osinttechnical show the ‘extensive damage’ caused by the blaze which burned for more than four days off San Diego harbor. It is not yet known if the ship will sail again

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has pledged a thorough investigation into the blaze

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has pledged a thorough investigation into the blaze

Gilday said seeing the blackened ship for those deployed on it has been 'a gut punch,' and feels like losing a home

Gilday said seeing the blackened ship for those deployed on it has been ‘a gut punch,’ and feels like losing a home

Four days after the initial spark, the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard was still burning Wednesday, as firefighters inched their way deeper into its compartments in a search to find every smoldering hot spot

Four days after the initial spark, the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard was still burning Wednesday, as firefighters inched their way deeper into its compartments in a search to find every smoldering hot spot

Firefighting boats spray water onto the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard as smoke rises from a fire onboard the ship at Naval Base San Diego, as seen from Coronado, California last Sunday

Firefighting boats spray water onto the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard as smoke rises from a fire onboard the ship at Naval Base San Diego, as seen from Coronado, California last Sunday 

Smoke rises from the USS Bonhomme Richard after the explosion last Sunday

Smoke rises from the USS Bonhomme Richard after the explosion last Sunday 

For sailors who have been deployed on the Bonhomme Richard, seeing the blackened ship has been ‘a gut punch,’ and feels like losing their home, Gilday said. ‘For every one of them, it’s a personal loss,’ he said.   

Four days after the initial spark, the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard was still burning Wednesday, as firefighters inched their way deeper into its compartments in a search to find every smoldering hot spot.

Experts say the stubborn fire illustrates how difficult ship blazes are to put out once they tear through a vessel. The fire at one point reached up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening to soften its steel.

The fire at one point reached up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening to soften its steel

The fire at one point reached up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening to soften its steel

Adding to the difficulty of the Bonhomme Richard fire was the fact that it had been undergoing maintenance since 2018, so there was scaffolding and other equipment and debris in the way. That also got in the way of firefighters

Adding to the difficulty of the Bonhomme Richard fire was the fact that it had been undergoing maintenance since 2018, so there was scaffolding and other equipment and debris in the way. That also got in the way of firefighters

As of early Wednesday, helicopters had dumped 1,500 buckets of water on the ship, cooling the superstructure and flight deck to enable crews to move further inside the vessel and identify hot spots

As of early Wednesday, helicopters had dumped 1,500 buckets of water on the ship, cooling the superstructure and flight deck to enable crews to move further inside the vessel and identify hot spots

The Bonhomme Richard is capable of carrying more than 1,000 sailors, in addition to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The cost of the ship has been estimated $761 million, according to the Federation of American Scientists

The Bonhomme Richard is capable of carrying more than 1,000 sailors, in addition to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The cost of the ship has been estimated $761 million, according to the Federation of American Scientists

The ship has been homeported at Naval Base San Diego since its last deployment in spring 2018

The ship has been homeported at Naval Base San Diego since its last deployment in spring 2018

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said the Bonhomme Richard's design may have helped spread the blaze

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said the Bonhomme Richard’s design may have helped spread the blaze

‘All shipboard fires are difficult to fight,’ said maritime lawyer Rod Sullivan, who served in the Navy. ‘It’s very difficult to choke off oxygen in open deck spaces,’ and then to follow the flames into all the nooks on a boat.

It’s not uncommon for ship fires to take days to extinguish, he added, pointing to a fire last month on a car-carrying cargo ship that burned in Jacksonville, Florida, for eight days.

Adding to the difficulty of the Bonhomme Richard fire was the fact that it had been undergoing maintenance since 2018, so there was scaffolding and other equipment and debris in the way. That also got in the way of firefighters. One of the ship’s fire suppression systems also was deactivated because of the maintenance project.

As of early Wednesday, helicopters had dumped 1,500 buckets of water on the ship, cooling the superstructure and flight deck to enable crews to move further inside the vessel and identify hot spots.

Retired Capt. Lawrence Brennan, a professor of international maritime law at Fordham University in New York, said even spraying water on a ship fire can be risky: If any aluminum on board had melted on plywood the combination could create aluminum carbide, which, in turn, can generate a flammable methane when sprayed with water.

‘An uncontrollable fire like this one is among sailors’ worst fears,’ he said, adding that’s why ships are designed to have so many compartments that can be closed off quickly with airtight doors.

It could cost an estimated $4 billion to replace the ship if it is deemed un-salvageable

It could cost an estimated $4 billion to replace the ship if it is deemed un-salvageable

The Bonhomme Richard had been docked since 2018 and was nearing the end of an estimated $250 million upgrade so it could start being used to deploy the Marine Corps' F-35Bs in the Pacific

The Bonhomme Richard had been docked since 2018 and was nearing the end of an estimated $250 million upgrade so it could start being used to deploy the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs in the Pacific

More than 60 sailors and civilians have been treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation

Fire crews equipment is seen among the debris

More than 60 sailors and civilians have been treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation

Tugboats firing water cannons have kept the hull cool so it does not rupture and cause the one million gallons of fuel on board to spill in the bay

Tugboats firing water cannons have kept the hull cool so it does not rupture and cause the one million gallons of fuel on board to spill in the bay

Four engineering spaces did not suffer major damage as initially feared, and the external structure of the ship is safe

Four engineering spaces did not suffer major damage as initially feared, and the external structure of the ship is safe

The Bonhomme Richard is capable of carrying more than 1,000 sailors, in addition to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The cost of the ship has been estimated $761 million, according to the Federation of American Scientists. 

It has been homeported at Naval Base San Diego since its last deployment in spring 2018, when it returned from a six-year port switch to Sasebo, Japan. 

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said the Bonhomme Richard’s design — which is like a mini-aircraft carrier — may have helped spread the blaze.

‘For this class of ship, the open area above the vehicle storage is all open, a big hangar,’ he said. ‘Once the fire hit that amount of oxygen, it found other ways to go up.’

He has said the full extent of the damage won’t be known until the fire is completely out and crews can access all the areas once it is safe to enter.

Sobeck, who is commander of the strike group that includes the Bonhomme Richard as its flagship, has said he is hopeful the ship can still be repaired but no one will know until that assessment is done.

He said four engineering spaces did not suffer major damage as initially feared, and the external structure of the ship is safe. Tugboats firing water cannons have kept the hull cool so it does not rupture and cause the one million gallons of fuel on board to spill in the bay.

In a photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard talkabout a fire aboard the ship at Naval Station San Diego last Sunday

In a photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard talkabout a fire aboard the ship at Naval Station San Diego last Sunday

Sailors aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard don firefighting equipment to help combat the fire last Sunday

Sailors aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard don firefighting equipment to help combat the fire last Sunday 

Fuel was stored below the waterline and the risk of it spilling or exploding was now ‘very low,’ Sobeck said, although the U.S. Coast Guard was standing by in order to place a boom to prevent the spread of oil should that occur.

It could cost an estimated $4 billion to replace the ship if it is deemed un-salvageable. The Bonhomme Richard had been docked since 2018 and was nearing the end of an estimated $250 million upgrade so it could start being used to deploy the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs in the Pacific.

More than 60 sailors and civilians have been treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

source: dailymail.co.uk

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