Hearing Begins for Sailor Charged in 2020 Navy Ship Fire in San Diego Port

Written by William Hekman

The sailor accused of being responsible for setting a fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard back in 2020 is scheduled to have his hearing today. The inferno engulfed the ship for a total of five days as crews attempted to put out the flames, and it is considered one of the worst fires on a warship outside of battle. Fire crews battled the flames for five days because the ship did not have proper and up-to-date fire fighting equipment along with a lack of training and a number of electrical failures. 

The accused sailor, Ryan Mays, has been charged with aggravated arson, and willful hazarding of a vessel. Mays says that he was in another part of the ship when the fire started and helped put out the fire. Mays had been in the Navy SEAL program but was dropped according to court documents released back in August. That same month, a search warrant was issued for Mays’ online communications, cell phone, vehicle and other items for possible evidence allegedly connecting him to the arson. The warrant indicated that a fellow sailor had seen Mays leaving the epicenter of the fire known as the “Lower V” only moments before the fire started. Firefighting equipment in the Lower V and Upper V looked to have been sabotaged according to investigators and fire hose lines had been cut as well. A Navy official told the ATF investigators that the firefighting stations in those areas were, “purposely tampered with and/or disconnected.”

Mays has stated that not only is he innocent, but that the real culprit of this fire is someone who is framing him and that he was being set up. However, one sailor told authorities that Mays “hates” the Navy. 

Photo Cred: AP Photo/Denis Poroy