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Sailor found not guilty of setting fire that destroyed USS Bonhomme Richard​

Crew failures led to Navy ship fire, report says
Report says multiple failures led to devastating fire on Navy ship 00:21

A Navy judge has ruled a sailor was not guilty of setting a fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego in 2020. The ruling Friday came after a nine-day trial at Naval Base San Diego.

"Seaman Recruit Mays was found not guilty on the charges of willful hazarding of a vessel and aggravated arson. The Navy is committed to upholding the principles of due process and a fair trial," said Lt. Samuel R. Boyle, spokesman for U.S 3rd Fleet.

Navy Ship USS Bonhomme Richard Burns At Naval Base In San Diego
A fire burns on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, 2020, in San Diego, California. There was an explosion on board the ship with multiple injuries reported. Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Prosecutors charged then-19-year-old Ryan Sawyer Mays with arson and the willful hazarding of a ship and accused him of igniting cardboard boxes in a lower vehicle storage area.

There is no physical evidence, however, tying Mays to the fire on the ship, which was docked and undergoing maintenance at that time.

A Navy report last year concluded the fire that destroyed the $1.2 billion amphibious assault ship was preventable and unacceptable and that there were lapses in training, coordination, communications, fire preparedness, equipment maintenance and overall command and control.

More than 20 senior officers and sailor were disciplined in connection with the incident.

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