Alwaght- US’s semi-heavy aircraft carrier USS Bonehomme Richard continues burning in San Diego naval base for the fourth day as the firefighters struggle to put out the blaze abroad the ship.
The fire that started with a huge explosion on Sunday, according to the US navy spokesman, caused no deaths and only 59 people were injured including 39 sailors and 23 civilians. They were affected by the heat and smoke they were exposed to.
On Monday, a health official issued a warning, saying that the fume caused by the burning in San Diego is the worst in years.
Hundreds of the navy sailors since Monday started their struggle against the heavily burning fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. The blaze is one of the worst onboard a US warship since World War II, authorities believe.
According to the navy officials, there is a “real hell” inside the ship whose heat reached over 1,000 degrees.
Such a high degree of heat sent the firefighters and navy officials into worry about the fire reaching the big fuel tank of the vessel. In case of an explosion caused by the fuel, in addition to the destruction of the ship, the region can have a grave environmental crisis. Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck, the commander of the Navy expeditionary strike group whose flagship is the Bonhomme Richard, said that the ship currently holds about 1 million gallons (3.8 million liters) of aircraft fuel. The risk caused the navy authorities to move two cruisers, USS Fitzgerald and USS Russell, to faraway piers.
Fire cause unclear
So far, the cause of the explosion was not discovered by the navy authorities or they may not want to tell people what really caused the huge ship to burn. A spokesman to the navy said that the force is yet to find out what happened but he assured them there was no clue that the fire was intentional.
Real Admiral Sobeck said there had been burn damage all the way through the skin of the ship. He did not directly respond to a question about whether the hull had been damaged, according to the New York Times.
Asked whether they could put out the fire within 24 hours, he said this is fully possible.
The exact cause of the blaze was unclear. But Admiral Sobeck said sailors on board said that it had started in a cavernous open area used for storing trucks and amphibious vehicles used by Marines and that it may have been fueled by heavy-duty cardboard boxes and other materials in storage, New York Times reported citing Sobeck.
Can the ship be mended?
Some observers, including former sailors and navy experts, have raised a question about if the ship can be repaired and returned to service.
Rear Admiral Sobeck, asked if the ship can be saved, said: “Right now, we’re doing everything we can to do exactly just that. Once we get the fire out, which is the priority, then we make that assessment.” He said he was “absolutely hopeful” that the ship will be back to service again.
The amphibious USS Bonhomme Richard, which is a smaller model of the aircraft carriers, can carry over 2,000 sailors and soldiers in an emergency.
It has an 800-foot-long flight deck from bow to stern that carries helicopters and F-35 jets. But its primary mission is as a massive amphibious assault ship, capable of carrying about 1,200 Marines and landing them on a beach with amphibious vehicles while its aircraft simultaneously provide close-air support.
The ship was commissioned in 1998 and, named for Benjamin Franklin using his pen name, is one of eight ships in its class, and was nearing the end of a lengthy period of shipyard repairs following a six-year deployment with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Sasebo, Japan, New York Times reported.
San Diego base is the second-largest home for the US navy’s Pacific Fleet, accommodating over 50 ships. The base has 13 piers across an area of 4 square kilometers lying along a 1.5 kilometers coast. The San Diego base, active since 1922, is home to 24,000 military personnel and 10,000 civilians.
Is intangible revenge possible?
While the US officials do not seem to have an accurate idea about the real reason behind the explosion or do not want to give it publicity, in an important stance General Ismail Ghaani, the commander of the Iranian IRGC’s Quds Force, in comments on the US ship incident said: “What has happened in the US, especially the navy incident, is a result of the actions, behavior, and crimes of the American government. This is God’s promise that whoever commits crime and oppression will suffer from God’s punishment. They were caught in God’s punishment because they changed God’s words, oppressed, and committed crimes.”
He added that the Americans should not look for culprits. They should not accuse others.
“This is a fire they lighted and today they are encompassed by it. We have to tell them that this incident is the response to your crimes that took place at the hands of your own elements. God punishes you with your own hands,” he added.
Addressing the American government, General Ghaani said: “You still live your good days. Very tough days and incidents await you and the Israeli regime.”
Iran and the US once confronted during what is known as the "war of tankers” in the 1980s in the Persian Gulf, during the Saddam Hussein war against Iran. Several US navy warships sustained damage after running into naval mines. In 1988, USS Samuel B. Roberts saw damage after it hit a naval mine in the Persian Gulf.
During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the USS Princeton and USS Tripoli were struck by sea mines.
“As long as the Americans do not believe in a supernatural power going beyond the man’s power and see themselves the mighty power, they will not be immune to such blows. After all, God is an observer and avenger,” an Iranian expert said.
The recent incident comes while the White House officials are growing extremely discontented and worried about the increasing Iranian presence in Latin America, the traditional backyard of the US. But they practically cannot block it from establishing a presence there. For example, last month five Iranian tankers delivered oil and gas to the US-sanctioned Venezuela despite the US warnings and threats of seizure.