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Crime Update: Ryan Sawyer Mays court Martial, 21, Accused Of Setting The USS Bonhomme Richard On Fire

Exploring ‘Ryan Sawyer Mays court Martial, 21, Accused Of Setting The USS Bonhomme Richard On Fire’ In July 2020, the USS Bonhomme Richard caught fire and burned for five days, spewing smoke over San Diego, where the ship had been undergoing a significant upgrade.

Prosecutors claim that a young seaman who is accused of setting fire to a US Navy cruiser was upset at being given deck duty after failing to join the Navy SEALs.

Crime Update: Ryan Sawyer Mays court Martial, 21, Accused Of Setting The USS Bonhomme Richard On Fire

Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, is accused of aggravated arson and the wilful hazarding of a vessel – charges he has denied.

On the first day of the court martial at Naval Base San Diego, prosecutor Commander Leah O’Brien described Mays as arrogant, adding that the fire had been “a mischievous act of defiance gone wrong”.

US Navy sailor Ryan Sawyer Mays walks past reporters at Naval Base San Diego before entering a Navy courtroom Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. Pic: AP
Ryan Sawyer Mays court Martial, 21, Accused Of Setting The USS Bonhomme Richard On Fire
Image:US Navy sailor Ryan Sawyer Mays pictured in August. Pic: AP

The USS Bonhomme Richard burned for nearly five days in July 2020, sending smoke over San Diego, where the ship had been for a major upgrade.

Some 115 sailors were on board and nearly 60 suffered heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation, and minor injuries.

The ship was so badly damaged that it had to be scuttled.

But Mays’ military defense counsel Lieutenant Tayler Haggerty said prosecutors had presented no physical evidence proving he was behind the fire.

She said investigators had ignored evidence and witness accounts, so they could find a scapegoat for the loss of a costly ship that had been badly managed by senior officers.

Once they had decided the culprit was Mays, a sailor known to be sarcastic and flippant, “nothing else mattered”, she added.

“Just because the government eliminates, ignores, pieces of evidence, it doesn’t mean the court should.”

U.S. Navy helicopters and city firefighters continue fighting a fire on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, in San Diego, California, U.S. July 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ryan Sawyer Mays court Martial, 21, Accused Of Setting The USS Bonhomme Richard On Fire

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks and is before Navy judge Captain Derek Butler, has been hampered by the inability of many witnesses to remember what happened on the day of the fire.

I Can’t Remember A Lot

Petty Officer Jeffrey Garvin, the warship’s former fire marshal, fought back tears when asked by the prosecution about the day, saying: “I’m still trying to work through this in therapy myself. I apologize.”

Later, he said: “I can’t remember a lot.”

More than 20 senior officers and sailors were disciplined by Navy leaders in connection with what was described as widespread leadership failures that contributed to the disaster.

According to a Navy study from the previous year, the fire damage was avoidable and unacceptable, and it was attributed to a lack of command and control, coordination, training, communication, and fire readiness.

The bottom vehicle storage area where the fire started, according to some of the crew members who gave testimony, was stocked with bottles, tools, generators, tractors, and other machinery.

Defense attorneys argued that there was evidence linking a different sailor who has since been discharged from the Navy and that investigators disregarded the fact that lithium batteries were kept next to combustible items like cardboard boxes.

The trial continues. Watch out for more…

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