USS Bonhomme Richard, Navy assault ship damaged by fire, should be sunk, lawmakers say

Last July, more than 21 people suffered minor injuries in an explosion and fire on board

A bipartisan group of 22 lawmakers from Congress is asking Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker to "save taxpayers millions of dollars" and sink the irreparably damaged USS Bonhomme Richard somewhere near Florida, according to a report.

"The USS Bonhomme Richard is an ideal candidate for artificial reefing and would be welcomed by the people of Florida," according to a letter from the members of Congress to Harker excerpted by WTVT, the Fox-owned TV station in Tampa. 

The letter also said, "...based on the state's experience, we believe that the U.S. Navy will spend significantly less than $30 million and be able to proceed in an expedited timeline to sink it in Florida as an artificial reef. It is our hope that you will send the USS Bonhomme Richard to Florida where its story and legacy can continue."

Fox News reached out to the Navy, and is waiting for an official comment. 

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Last July, more than 21 people suffered minor injuries in an explosion and fire on board the 840-foot amphibious assault vessel at Naval Base San Diego, military officials said.

The ship, commissioned in summer 1998, had the capacity to deploy and land helicopters, smaller boats and amphibious vehicles. 

SAN DIEGO , CA - JULY 12: Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats combat a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020.  (Photo by Lt. John J. Mike/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO , CA - JULY 12: Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats combat a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020.  (Photo by Lt. John J. Mike/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

San Diego was the Bonhomme Richard’s home port, and the ship was undergoing routine maintenance at the time of the fire.

About 160 sailors and officers were on board — far fewer than the thousand typically on the ship when it’s on active duty.

All crew members were accounted for, said Navy officials.

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The USS Bonhomme Richard, commissioned in summer 1998, had the capacity to deploy and land helicopters, smaller boats and amphibious vehicles. 

The USS Bonhomme Richard, commissioned in summer 1998, had the capacity to deploy and land helicopters, smaller boats and amphibious vehicles.  (iStock)

According to the Navy, restoration of the Bonhomme Richard could cost more than $3 billion and necessitate between five and seven years for completion. 

The ship suffered extensive damage to its flight deck, island, mast and lower levels. Earlier this week, the Navy announced the ship's island was being removed to "improve the ship’s structural integrity and readiness for tow. The removal process will reduce the island's height down to just above the ship's flight deck. … The final timeline for towing and dismantlement is still being determined."

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The Navy said all investigations into the fire that burned for four days was ongoing.