USS Essex (LHD 2) Sailors Assist Firefighting Efforts Aboard USS Bonhomme

by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Diffie, USS Essex public affairs
29 July 2020
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VIRIN: 210113-N-N0831-0101

 
On July 12th, during a seemingly peaceful Sunday morning, one of a Sailor’s worst fears came to be. The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) had caught fire. The fire spread quickly and Sailors assigned to the ship needed help. Sailors from USS Essex (LHD 2) answered that call.
“I volunteered because I didn’t want to just watch it burn and leave people to do it alone,” said Damage Controlman Fireman Shannon Hoffer, an Essex Sailor who was a part of the firefighting mission aboard Bonhomme Richard. “After waiting a long time, they let us go in. The hangar bay was unrecognizable. It was like a horror movie. Everything, you know? Your home just ripped apart by a fire.”
Hoffer entered the ship and witnessed the damage.
"I have more pride in myself because I was willing to lead a team and go into a burning ship to help my people,” Hoffer said.
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Jaxon Draper was another Essex Sailor who assisted in firefighting efforts. Draper was there the day after the initial incident, waiting to be called to action.
“As we got closer to the ship we really started to see the damage done by this fire,” said Draper. “The ship looked like it was caving in on itself, the levels above the flight deck were melting, and smoke was pouring out of most open areas as well.”
When Draper arrived with his team of volunteer Sailors to combat the casualty, the fire had escalated out of control.
The gravity of the situation was not lost and Sailors will continue to take lessons from this tragedy.
“Now that it’s behind and in the past, all we can really do is learn from it,” said Draper. “Take damage control and preventing fires seriously, because you never really know when it’s going to hit the fan and other people will be relying on you to take action.”

 
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