U.S. Navy battles for second day to save burning warship in San Diego
By Mike Blake SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Hundreds of firefighters battled through a second day from the air, land and water on Monday to save a U.S. war vessel swept by flames while moored at a San Diego shipyard, as the number of sailors and civilians injured in the blaze rose to nearly 60. The USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship whose size ranks second in the U.S.
By Mike Blake
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Hundreds of firefighters battled through a second day from the air, land and water on Monday to save a U.S. war vessel swept by flames while moored at a San Diego shipyard, as the number of sailors and civilians injured in the blaze rose to nearly 60.
The USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship whose size ranks second in the U.S. Navy fleet to that of an aircraft carrier, remained largely shrouded in thick, acrid smoke on Monday as the vessel began listing to its starboard side.
The fire, accompanied by at least one large explosion, erupted Sunday morning in the lower cargo hold of the 844-foot-long (257 meter) ship, docked for routine maintenance at its home port at U.S. Naval Base San Diego.
Since then, flames have spread upward throughout much of the ship and into the tower and other structures on the top of the vessel, Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck told a late-morning news conference.
Because it was undergoing repairs at the time, only about 160 of the ship's usual contingent of 1,000 crew members were aboard at the time, and all major munitions had already been removed from the vessel as a standard safety practice, Navy officials said.
Helicopters dropped water over the ship throughout Monday while fire boats on the perimeter streamed water on the hull to cool it from the outside. San Diego fire crews discontinued blasting water into the ship from shore, apparently out of concern for destabilising the vessel's buoyancy.
Asked whether the ship might be burned beyond repair, Sobeck said he was "hopeful" it could be spared. "Once we get the fire out, which is our priority, then we'll make that assessment."
The fire's cause was unknown, but a Navy spokesman told Reuters there was no evidence of foul play.
The Navy said 36 sailors and 23 civilians had been treated for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, and no personnel remained hospitalized.
The Bonhomme Richard, commissioned in 1998, is designed to carry U.S. Marine Corps attack helicopters and ground troops into battle.
(Reporting by Mike Blake in San Diego; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Eureka, Calif.; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.