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Fire on US carrier Abe Lincoln off CA coast; 9 injured

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits the Pacific Ocean. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch/U.S. Navy)
December 01, 2022

A fire broke out on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Tuesday morning and nine sailors were injured as the crew battled to contain the blaze.

The U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based 3rd Fleet confirmed the fire on the ship in a Wednesday press release. The aircraft carrier was reportedly conducting routine operations about 30 miles off the coast of Southern California when the fire broke out.

“The fire was quickly identified and extinguished through the crew’s fire-fighting efforts,” the 3rd Fleet said. “Nine Sailors aboard are reported to have suffered minor injuries and have been treated aboard the ship.”

The 3rd Fleet said the cause of the fire is unknown at this time and the incident is under investigation.

The incident did not alter the ship’s course and the 3rd Fleet said “Abraham Lincoln will continue to operate in the area.”

Firefighting is a regular responsibility for Navy sailors and the Navy operates under a motto of “every sailor is a firefighter.”

In 2020, a fire broke out aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, which is a type of light aircraft carrier that can launch helicopters and short-take off aircraft like the F-35B Lighting II joint strike fighter.

The Bonhomme Richard was in port in its homeport at Naval Base San Diego undergoing maintenance when the fire broke out on July 12, 2020. The flames quickly spread throughout the ship and caused so much damage it would have taken about $3 billion and several years to repair. The Navy chose to instead decommission and scrap the ship.

An October 2021 Navy investigative report found inadequate firefighting training and a failure to act quickly contributed to the rapid spread of the fire aboard the Bonhomme Richard.

The Navy also suspected intentional arson led to the outbreak of the fire on the Bonhomme Richard and the service charged a sailor with setting the blaze. That sailor, Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays, was found not guilty after a court martial in September.