Sailor facing court martial in fire that destroyed Navy ship

Brian Melley and Julie Watson
Associated Press

San Diego – A sailor accused of starting the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard will face a court martial for arson, according to charges filed Friday.

Ryan Mays faces two counts in military court for the July 2020 blaze that injured dozens of personnel aboard the amphibious assault ship as the fire burned for five days and sent acrid smoke wafting over San Diego.

In this July 14, 2020, file photo, a helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combats a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego.

It marked one of the worst noncombat warship disasters in recent memory and the vessel had to be scrapped.

Navy prosecutors said at a December hearing that Mays set the fire because he was disgruntled after dropping out of Navy SEAL training. His defense lawyers said there was no physical evidence connecting him to the blaze.

Mays was charged with aggravated arson and the willful hazarding of a vessel.

A lawyer for Mays did not immediately return a message seeking comment.