WASHINGTON - Firefighting teams have extinguished a massive fire more than four days after it erupted on board a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship docked at Naval Base San Diego in the U.S. state of California.
The cause of the fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship, worth billions of dollars, remains under investigation.
“We did not know the origin of the fire. We do not know the extent of the damage. It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said Thursday.
More than 1,500 buckets of water were dropped from three helicopter squadrons onto the ship before firefighters could get on board to extinguish the last of the fire. Tugboats also provided firefighting support with a waterline, Sobeck said.
There were 160 sailors aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard when the fire broke out, according to the Navy. The fire started in the lower armored vehicle storage area, the Associated Press reported.
In total, 63 U.S. sailors and Navy civilian personnel were treated for injuries as a result of the fire, including smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. None is still hospitalized.
Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock ships like the USS Bonhomme Richard resemble small aircraft carriers and are the largest amphibious ships in the world. They are designed to allow the U.S. Marine Corps to easily shift their operations between sea and land.
The ship was undergoing routine maintenance in San Diego. No ammunition or major weapons were onboard, and the ship's fuel was not near the source of the fire, Sobeck said Sunday.