SAN DIEGO (AP) —
A Navy judge has ruled a sailor was not guilty of setting a fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego in 2020.
The ruling Friday came after a nine-day trial at Naval Base San Diego.
“Seaman Recruit Mays was found not guilty on the charges of willful hazarding of a vessel and aggravated arson. The Navy is committed to upholding the principles of due process and a fair trial,” said Lt. Samuel R. Boyle, spokesman for U.S 3rd Fleet.
Prosecutors charged then-19-year-old Ryan Sawyer Mays with arson and the willful hazarding of a ship and accused him of igniting cardboard boxes in a lower vehicle storage area.
There is no physical evidence, however, tying Mays to the fire on the ship, which was docked and undergoing maintenance at that time.
A Navy report last year concluded the fire that destroyed the $1.2 billion amphibious assault ship was preventable and unacceptable and that there were lapses in training, coordination, communications, fire preparedness, equipment maintenance and overall command and control.
More than 20 senior officers and sailor were disciplined in connection with the incident.
Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press