The fire has brought down the USS Bonhomme Richard’s forward mast.
More than 400 sailors are working to put out the massive fire that continues to rage aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego and Navy officials are unclear how long the blaze might continue to burn.
The fire has brought down the amphibious assault ship’s forward mast and caused other damage to the ship’s superstructure that rises above its flight deck.
“There is a tremendous amount of heat underneath and that’s where it’s — it’s flashing up — also forward, closer to the bow again there’s a heat source and we’re trying to get to that as well,” Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 said at a news conference Monday in San Diego.
Sobeck said that the temperatures in the fire’s heat sources are reaching as high as 1,000 degrees. With temperatures that high, the sailors are rotating in on 15-minute firefighting shifts.
Asked if he believes the ship could be saved, Sobeck said, “I feel absolutely hopeful because we have sailors giving it their all.”
He also expressed confidence that the fire will not get close to the ship’s supply of one million gallons of fuel, which lies two decks below the blaze.
The fire continues to cause damage to the the ship’s superstructure, which rises above its flight deck and has brought down one of the two masts that tower above.
Sobeck acknowledged that the ship’s Halon fire suppression system — which could have put out the initial fire — was not activated because it was also receiving maintenance.