Washington DC, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- A fire on the United States Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard has injured 17 sailors and four civilians who are being treated in hospital in San Diego, California, officials announced.
Efforts to put out the fire are ongoing.
“Today, we suffered a terrible tragedy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) when a fire broke out aboard the ship while in port San Diego,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday said in a statement
“At this point, 17 Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital. The remainder of the crew is accounted for.”
The fire started at around 8.30 am local time (15:30 GMT) and the San Francisco Fire department said it had been requested by Federal Fire at 9 am, before further alarms at 9.09 am and 9.51 am.
In its latest update, the Pacific Fleet said that “Federal Fire San Diego is the on-scene lead for firefighting efforts on @NavBaseSD combatting the fire.”
“Currently there are two firefighting teams fighting the fire aboard the ship,” said Federal Fire San Diego Division Chief Rob Bondurant, according to the Pacific Fleet. “Federal Fire is rotating their crews aboard the ship with @USNavy firefighting crews from the waterfront to fight the fire in order to find the seat of the fire and extinguish it.”
Navy tug boats were also tackling the fire from the bay, it said.
The origin of the fire is still unknown and is pending investigation.
Although an explosion has been reported by various sources and media, this has not been confirmed by the Navy.
Originally, the Pacific Fleet reported 11 injuries, and later updated to 18 sailors, adding that “the fire was called away at approx. 8:30 AM, July 12. Approx. 160 Sailors were aboard at the time.”
The ship has a crew size of 1,000, however the USS Bonhomme Richard was in the port of San Diego to undergo maintenance, so most of the troops were staying in private homes or property of the Navy in San Diego, Lt. Commander Patricia Kreuzberger, Navy spokeswoman, told EFE.
The USS Fitzgerald and the USS Russell were moved away to other berths.
Images of the burning ship have been broadcast across US television channels, showing a column of dense gray smoke rising above the ship as firefighters and federal agents try to put out the flames.
USS Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious assault ship capable of deploying helicopters, boats, and other vehicles.
It has appeared in films such as “Battleship” and “Act of Valor,” both released in 2012.
The ship has been used in joint military drills that South Korea and the US carry out annually. EFE-EPA