US Navy Charges Sailor In Fire On USS Bonhomme Richard

(Photo by Lt. John J. Mike/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The U.S. Navy has charged one of its sailors for allegedly starting a fire on a warship that led to its destruction.

The charges, announced Thursday by the Navy, accuse the unnamed sailor of aggravated arson and willfully hazarding a vessel under articles 126 and 110 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 3rd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson told ABC News. The fire set on the USS Bonhomme Richard while it was stationed in San Diego in July 2020 ultimately led to the Navy scrapping the ship, which cost $750 million to build in 1998 ($1.2 billion in 2020 dollars), according to ABC News.

“Evidence collected during the investigation is sufficient to direct a preliminary hearing in accordance with due process under the military justice system. The Sailor was a member of Bonhomme Richard’s crew at the time and is accused of starting the fire,” Robertson said in a statement. (RELATED: Report Suggests Navy Unprepared For Military Confrontation)

Robertson also said the 3rd Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, is still considering bringing court-martial charges. Koehler has scheduled a preliminary hearing before any trial takes place, “including whether or not there is probable cause to believe an offense has been committed and to offer a recommendation as to the disposition of the case,” Robertson also said, according to ABC News.

Previously, Navy officials told ABC News that investigators were questioning a Navy sailor in connection to the fire, but Robertson did not confirm if this was the same person.