Fires and Incompetence Destroying Ships of the World’s Navys

The USA Navy has joined the Navies of Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran who have had major navy ships destroyed by fire or other causes. The US appears to have lost a Wasp class assault ship to a construction fire. The US has nine other similar ships and 11 larger aircraft carriers.

In Dec, 2019, Russia lost its only aircraft carrier to a fire.

In April 2020, China had a fire on one their new Type 075 big-deck amphibious assault ships. This is a 40,000 ton helicopter carrier.

Iran hit its own ship with a missile. Venezuela sank a navy patrol ship when it rammed the front of ice-breaking cruise ship.

Two major fires are still burning on the Wasp Class landing assault ship, USS Bonhomme Richard. This is a 40,000 ton 844-foot long small aircraft carrier. The US has not declared the ship lost but they will. The ship will be on fire for days and the fire is leaving massive holes.

There were 8 Wasp-class ships. They were being refitted to carry F-35B fighters.

$10 billion was being spent to build 3 larger America class ships. The America class can launch up to 25 F-35Bs. Two America class ships were completed.

The US Navy was spending $250 million on each ship to enable them to carry and launch F-35B fighters. A new, heat-resistant deck coating would have allowed the ship to operate as many as 20 F-35Bs. The US Navy planned to use the ship was until 2037.

The US has 11 full-sized aircraft carriers and now has 9 assault ship carriers.

SOURCES- Wikipedia, USNI
Written by Brian Wang,

35 thoughts on “Fires and Incompetence Destroying Ships of the World’s Navys”

  1. I searched around and get wildly different statistics ranging from 5% of fires to 30% of fires started by cigarettes.
    It tends to be around 3% of forest fires (campfires being the primary cause), to 30% or more of house fires.
    Being enclosed tends to increase the risk.
    I have done a bit of grinding. I have never seen anything catch fire because of it. The sparks tend to die very quickly.
    Sweating plumbing joints I have started a little fire or two but always had a spray bottle of water nearby to put it out (and I give a couple shots in the wall before I start). I have a special cloth I usually put behind the pipe which definitely helps. And anyone welding will make sure below where they are working there is not any paper, cardboard, dried leaves, etc.
    Ciggrete butts get tossed everywhere. I have a neigbor who is a jerk and flicks her cigaretts over the wall all the time into my dead grass. Hundreds of them. Smokers often just don’t give a crap.

  2. Ships of all kinds under repair frequently catch fire. Invariably the cause is tracked down to “hot work” – welding – cutting or agressive grinding.
    A lot of experiments have been done with cigarette butts, but the chance of one actually causing a fire is not all that great. I don’t smoke, none of my family or friends do.

  3. Tech will not kill any sector in the medium term, it will reduce and constrain it’s growth over time. Companies are slow to change and adopt new tech solutions, implementing leading edge tech isn’t cheap.
    As people avoid the profession due to uncertainty, it could have the positive effect of driving higher pay.

    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

    2019 Median Pay: $45,750 per year

    Number of Jobs, 2018: 469,500

    Job Outlook, 2018-28: 1% (Little or no change)

    Employment Change, 2018-28: 5,400

  4. Depends on what is the issue.

    There were(2019) ~118 million individuals over the age of 25 that fall in the 26,875 to 57,807 median income bucket.~102 million individuals over the age of 25 earned at least an associate’s degree, which places them in the 65k to 135k median income bucket.

    I think the comparison is sufficient to illustrate that more education tends to produce better outcomes and for more people, assuming money is an indicator of success. You can always find people with an 8th grade education making over $135k and those with a PhD making under $30k, but the tails of each group is not representative of the majority. Qualified tradesmen without higher education could still reside in the upper tail of those low median ranges, but the fact the medians are low shows it’s not the same driver of success for the majority as education.

    The 1950s is dead and gone and is never coming back, automation and technological modernity is here to stay and too bad for anyone that cannot cope, the world isn’t going to change for them.

  5. I’ve been working with 3D printing for over 20 years.

    Machining is not going to go out of business. It might, in fact already has, be reduced in scope, but the sort of quality finish and precision you get from machining is beyond even experimental, lab prototype, even theoretical models of 3D printers.

  6. That makes much more sense.
    I’m even sympathetic to the reporter on this one.

    I’m assuming the triwalls are just part of the refit equipment, given the lengths the navy usually goes to to avoid flammable material on board.

  7. Also, all the buses and garbage trucks are natural gas, which helps a lot.
    Definitely don’t move to Del Mar or La Jolla. Traffic is atrocious there.

  8. I remember orange skies. Most of that was imported from LA.
    San Diego has improved dramatically. LA has improved dramatically too, but LA air is still too crummy for my tastes. The only place it is really bad in San Diego is heading to the TJ boarder, and that is because there are a lot of Mexican semis comming and going.
    A couple months ago the air was mountain clean when almost no one was driving. People are driving now, but the freeways are not stop and go, so that helps.
    The non Covid-19 traffic though has gotten worse over the years. They built a lot of houses in Temecula, and Chula Vista and as a result, freeways get very full. There are also a lot of people with green cards working in north county and all over that live in Mexico so they are always on the freeway or waiting at the boarder crossings.
    The smoke from this ship fire was unusually dreadful. This stuff has got to be very toxic. This is not like brush burning in the desert. It smelled like burning plastic and paint. Even on the third day, I could not see it in the air, but I could smell and taste it in the air. Today it has been fine.
    If you don’t care about traffic and high rent/home prices, it is a good place to live. It hasn’t been hot the last couple years but before that we had maybe 4 years of blistering heat…at least where I live 6 or 7 miles inland. Coronado is superb, but absurdly expensive. Point Loma is very good, but also very expensive. Rancho Santa Fe has the nicest homes.

  9. Has the air quality in San Diego really improved that much that you’re affected by these added particulants? Back in the 90’s , I’d look up at the brown haze, think about having been told it was healthier to smoke a cigarette than go for a run near the highway and think: ‘you know, they may have a point’. If I had issues breathing dirty air, I’d leave southern California myself. But my experience was almost 30 years ago ad I had other reasons to leave.

  10. Lament the good old days all you want, you should have listened to those idiots when you were a teenager. Stupid people are a dime a dozen, supply and demand. Fetishizing stupidity is popular, but it should not be a surprise to any rational mind that education tends to produce better outcomes.

    Median household income USA 2018, by educational attainment

    < 9th grade: 26,875

    9-12th grade: 29,204

    High School Grad: 46,073

    Some college(no degree): 57,807

    Associate degree: 65,647

    Bachelor’s degree: 93,533

    Master’s degree: 110k

    Professional Degree: 160k

    Doctorate: 135k

  11. Also mixing used rags in a site dumpster can cause problems. Some normally boring coverings and paints when their vapors mix can cause a spontaneous combustion even without heat or ignition source.

  12. You aren’t going to know if it was incompetence, or sheer bad luck, or bad luck that proper procedures should have caught, until months of investigation.
    And the same applies to many (not you Venezuela) of the other cases. And you won’t get the results of those investigations because China et al are not going to make them public if they reveal anything interesting.

  13. Drywall? On a ship? Combustible drywall on a naval vessel?
    I really don’t think that is correct.

  14. No it was the contractors. They are required to have a fire watch and the mains on. Mains were off.,

  15. Spent years on a number of warships, walked, climbed and crawled through all the spaces from the wardroom to the shaft allies; when did they start putting drywall in ships? Also takes more than a cigarette butt to ignite most things. Pile of greasy rags would be my first guess at the cause.

  16. While I agree with the overall idea, the people maintaining these ships (or failing to) weren’t a bunch of liberal arts majors.

    There is blame to be attached to someone in these cases.

  17. In the picture showing the relative sizes of Aircraft carriers, Wasp class is not included. The America is the America class and is the new class not part of the Wasp class. We have 2 America class ships. One active. The rest are Wasp class. Nimitz class aircraft carriers are also omitted. Cool picture though.

  18. Machinist might not be the best carer move as 3D printing seems to be taking over (though 3D printer operator should be in high demand). Maybe 20 years left of ordinary machinist. Welder? At least in factories, robots have taken over. But that still leaves a lot. I suspect the risk of eye damage is a factor in reduced appeal. Electricians? We will need them for quite a while, I suspect. However, like plumbing, your body may not cooperate all the way to 65. There is a lot of crawling involved, hot attics, and mucky tight crawlspaces. It is not very compatible with weight gain, joint issues, or muscle cramps.

  19. For want of a nail a kingdom was lost. Either stop the smoking or install some ash trays. Or do both.

  20. From what I have read, it started in a pile of drywall. Since drywall is not known to spontaneously combust, I strongly suspect someone’s discarded cigarette butt. That spells incompetence/negligence to me.
    The fire suppression system was disabled/removed so they could work on the underside of the deck.
    Though, if there had been someone smart around, maybe they would have seen the risk and had a “no cigarettes beyond this point” sign. Maybe even set up some fire hoses, just in case.

  21. No joke you say? Not true!

    Pixar finally made a movie for kids with cancer… It’s called Finding Chemo.

    Dark humor is like a child with cancer… It never gets old.

    What’s the difference between me and cancer? My dad didn’t beat cancer.

    People always say cancer is hard to beat… It’s pretty easy actually, I’m already on stage 4.

    Why doesn’t Joe Biden visit children with cancer in hospitals? Because he can’t sniff their hair.

    A man is diagnosed with cancer and has 3 days to live… So he grabs his son to go to the bar. For two days the man and his son drink and have fun. Eventually some of his friends notice the strange behavior. They approach him and ask, “What’s wrong?” The man says “ I got diagnosed with HIV and only have one more day to live.” The friends give their condolences and buy him and his son some drinks. Afterwords the son asks, “I thought you were diagnosed with cancer?” The man replies, “I did. I just didn’t want any of them banging your mother.”

    See, cancer can be a joke… ba-dum-dum.

  22. If the USS Forrestal, nicknamed USS Forestfire by sailors due to the number of fires onboard, can survive the conflagration that engulfed that ship during the Vietnam war, I’m sure USS Bonhomme Richard will survive as well.

  23. And I don’t really have a vendetta against nicotine. They could just vape, or chew nicotine gum or any method that does not include the tobacco tar or other carcinogens. Lung, throat, mouth or wherever, cancer is no joke.

  24. My throat is burning me right now because I have been inhaling this Wasp BBQ. And I don’t even live that close to the fire. I think I am about 6.5 miles away. It smells like burning plastic. Probably all that $300/gallon epoxy paint they put on all the Navy ships, or maybe whatever they were putting on the deck. In reality, it is probably worse than the release at Three Mile Island…as we now know it had no effect on cancer or death.
    I am the type that is bothered by being anywhere near a cigarette. And not because I am a jerk. The smoke really bothers me. I inherited that from my mom. Neither my dad or siblings are terribly bothered. Seems odd, as obviously people had to have fires in their homes for millennia, and likely would have been sucking up smoke all the time.
    The reality is that a discarded lit cigarette is likely the cause of the Wasp BBQ. Drywall does not spontaneously ignite (they said it started there). The military has been able to make other smart moves in the past like integrating African Americans far before it was accepted across the country (back in 1948). I think they could ban smoking. The military is what caused the surge of smoking in America. Only a small percentage smoked prior to the military giving everyone cigarettes in WWI. And they continued to hand out cigarettes for decades. The Vietnamese say they won the Vietnam war because Americans left a trail of cigarette butts they could easily follow, so they always knew where they were.

  25. Shipyard fires are not uncommon (been through a couple myself), what the Bonnie’s disaster is high lighting is the environment makes it worse. Warships are designed to compartmentalize damage, the needs of the ship yard to get work done compromise that design as the workers run cables and hoses through watertight doors and hatches allowing the smoke and fire to spread through the opening that cannot now be quickly shut. It’s dark in a ship when you’ve cut the power and the compartment is full of smoke, all you can do is aim the hose low and try to find the fire by the light it gives off.
    So now they have to go through compartment by compartment, remove what ever is blocking the doors and hatches, or at least hang smoke curtains, move to the next compartment as another team starts fans to remove the smoke and investigate for smoldering pockets.
    Is she a total loss? Too early to tell, if the fire moved to her engineering spaces probably. If it’s in the aviation spaces around the hangar bay and berthing, maybe not. It’s not unprecedented to take a ship after a major accident and rebuild them into a modified, modernized design. See USS Belknap CG-26.

  26. With one major difference. While the ships of those other navies were lost due to sheer incompetence and negligence the US ship catching fire was pure bad luck. This can happen even to the very best and the US navy is the very best of the best of the very very best.

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