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New details emerge about the 2020 Bonhomme Richard fire, ahead of censure of three-star


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WASHINGTON — The initial response to the July 2020 fire that destroyed the multibillion-dollar amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard was uncoordinated and hampered by confusion as to which admiral should cobble together Navy and civilian firefighters, according to new information from the then-head of Naval Surface Forces.

The discombobulation in those early hours meant sailors may have missed a small window to contain the fire in a storage area. One admiral who said he lacked authority to issue an order pleaded with the ship’s commanding officer to get back on the ship and fight the fire, when the CO and his crew were waiting on the pier. And when that admiral — now-retired Vice Adm. Rich Brown — found the situation so dire that he called on other another command to intervene, it refused, Brown said in an interview.

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