Navy sailor charged with setting blaze that destroyed billion-dollar ship last year

The Navy announced last year it would scrap the fire-ravaged ship.

The Navy has filed charges against a sailor in connection with the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego last July, the service announced Thursday.

"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," 3rd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson said in a statement.

PHOTO: Boats combat a fire on board the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020.

Boats combat a fire on board the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020.

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, the 3rd Fleet commander, is considering court-martial charges, according to the statement.

The admiral has set a preliminary hearing before any trial proceedings, "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 said.

The accused sailor's identity has not been released and Robertson also said the sailor was not being detained.

The U.S. Navy announced late last year it would scrap the aging amphibious assault ship.

PHOTO: Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats combat a fire on board the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., July 12, 2020.

Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats combat a fire on board the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., July 12, 2020.

The Bonhomme Richard was commissioned in 1998 at a cost of $750 million. Adjusted to 2020 dollars, that's $1.2 billion.

The damage to the ship from the days-long fire, that at times reached 1,000 degrees, was too much to repair for a ship that had already been in service for almost a quarter of a century, according to the Navy.

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