Sailor was found not guilty of the arson that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard

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

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

Naval Ship USS Bonhomme Richard Burns At Naval Base 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 numerous injuries.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images


The public prosecutor charged the then 19-year-old Ryan Sawyer Mays with arson and willful gambling with the boat and accused him of setting fire to cardboard boxes in the lower part of the vehicle’s storage area.

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

A Navy report last year concluded that 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 management.

Over 20 senior officers and a sailor were punished in connection with the incident.

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