WASHINGTON — The shipyard presiding over the renovations on the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard when it caught fire July 12 was awarded a $10 million contract modification for their efforts with firefighting and follow-on cleanup.
The contract with General Dynamics NASSCO San Diego was among those announced Wednesday in the U.S. Defense Department’s daily roundup.
The work includes “USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) emergency firefighting support, dewatering, safety and initial clean-up efforts,” the announcement read, and is to be completed by November 2020.
The fire, which broke out July 12, began in the lower vehicle storage area amidships and damaged 11 of the Bonhomme Richard’s 14 decks, according to a letter to all Navy flag officers and master chiefs obtained by Defense News. The Navy said there was no known welding or other “hot work” taking place at the time of the fire, and it is unclear what caused the blaze.
The Navy is conducting a safety investigation — which are not usually releasable to the public so as to encourage witnesses to speak freely — and a more formal administrative investigation accompanied by accountability recommendations that can be released.
The Navy’s top officer, Adm. Michael Gilday, told Defense News in a July 16 interview he is committed to transparency in the investigation.
“This is a very, very serious incident that I think will force the Navy to stand back and reevaluate itself,” Gilday said. “We’ve got to follow the facts, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves and we’ve got to get after it. My intention, once the investigations are done, is to make this available for the public to debate, including what we need to do to get after any systemic problems that we might have.”
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.