Navy to Remove Aft Mast on USS Bonhomme Richard This Week in ‘Abundance of Caution’

 In Sea, Forces & Capabilities, U.S. Navy

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) sits pier side at Naval Base San Diego on July 16, 2020. US Navy Photo

The Navy will remove the aft mast USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD‑6) this week out of an abun­dance of cau­tion, after the fire on the ship last month par­tic­u­lar­ly affect­ed the super­struc­ture area of the amphibi­ous assault ship.

“Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is com­menc­ing work to remove the aft mast aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD‑6). The fire com­pro­mised the struc­tur­al integri­ty of the aft mast, locat­ed above the ship’s super­struc­ture. Although damage assess­ments are ongo­ing, the Navy made the deci­sion, out of an abun­dance of cau­tion, to move for­ward with removal, which will be facil­i­tat­ed using two cranes on float­ing barges locat­ed along­side the ship,” Navy spokesman Lt. Ryan Slattery told USNI News.

Prep work on anten­nas and sen­sors locat­ed on the mast already took place over the week­end, and the mast itself will be removed this week. Additional assess­ments will deter­mine what work would be required to sim­i­lar­ly remove the for­ward mast.

Images taken during the fire­fight­ing effort on the ship show exten­sive damage to the super­struc­ture, with the fire burn­ing holes right through parts of the island. The for­ward mast was seen col­lapsed.

“The super­struc­ture and the upper decks con­tin­ue to burn and sus­tain damage, and the for­ward mast has col­lapsed,” Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the Expeditionary Strike Group 3 com­man­der, said during a media brief­ing the day after the fire broke out.

Slattery said the Navy owns one of the cranes that will be used in the removal process and con­tract­ed for the second one.

The ser­vice “mod­i­fied an exist­ing LHD‑6 salvage/firefighting deliv­ery order to SMIT AMERICAS to cut, rig, remove and dis­pose of the aft mast. The deliv­ery order was issued as part of NAVSEA’s exist­ing Emergency Salvage Services con­tract for the West Coast,” he said.

In addi­tion to this sal­vage work, the Navy awarded General Dynamics NASSCO $ 10 million for fire-related cleanup. NASSCO was already on con­tract to do main­te­nance on the ship prior to the fire. Bonhomme Richard had been at the NASSCO ship­yard just north of the Naval Base San Diego water­front for a dry dock repair period from June to December 2019, and NASSCO was con­duct­ing pier-side main­te­nance at the naval base when the fire broke out.

Slattery said there was still work to be done before fig­ur­ing out what comes next for the ship.

“Damage assess­ments are ongo­ing. Due to the size of the ship and extent of the damage, the ini­tial assess­ments are expect­ed to take sev­er­al weeks to com­plete. The team’s find­ings will allow the Navy to make informed deci­sions regard­ing Bonhomme Richard’s future,” he said.
“The cur­rent work scope is lim­it­ed to removal of the aft mast, and is being con­duct­ed out of an abun­dance of cau­tion fol­low­ing struc­tur­al analy­sis by NAVSEA. Any addi­tion­al work that will be required will be fully assessed.”

USNI source|articles

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