Sailor, 21, torched USS Bonhomme Richard in $1.2bn blaze because he’d been put on deck duty after dropping out of SEAL training program, trial hears: Prosecutors said he also lied about girlfriend becoming pregnant by another man

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  • 21-year-old Ryan Sawyer Mays set fire to a Navy warship on July 12, 2020
  • It sent billowing smoke over San Diego and badly damaged the ship.
  • Of the 115 soldiers aboard the ship, about 60 were treated for heat exhaustion.
  • Mays is on trial at Naval Base San Diego and faces charges of serious arson and intentional endangerment of a ship.

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Prosecutors say the sailor charged with setting fire to the US$1.2 billion bonhomie Richard, which burned for nearly five days, was assigned to deck duty when he failed to become a Navy SEAL.

Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, caught fire on July 12, 2020, when the ship was docked.

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The fire sent a pungent smoke over San Diego and damaged the ship so badly that it had to be crushed.

About 60 of the 115 sailors aboard the ship were treated for heat exhaustion, breathing in the fumes, and minor injuries.

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Failure to extinguish or put out the fire meant that temperatures climbed as high as 1,200 F in some areas, which melted parts of the ship into molten metal that flowed to other parts of the ship.

According to prosecutors, Mays was an arrogant sailor who was resentful of being assigned to deck duty after failing to become a Navy SEAL—and he paid the Navy sizable.

During the opening statement of the prosecution at Naval Base San Diego, CMDR. Leah O’Brien told the judge: ‘Your honor, it was a mischievous act of defiance gone wrong.’

More than half a dozen former crew members of the USS Bonholm Richard testified on the first day of trial yesterday.

They described a harrowing and chaotic scene as they were facing an inferno on a naval battleship with substandard equipment and because of the smoke, many did not know what the situation was.

Yesterday, Petty Officer Jeffrey Garwin, the former fire marshal on the ship, was asked by prosecutors to recall what he had done that day.

Getting emotional, he took a moment to respond, saying: ‘I’m still trying to work through this in self therapy. I am apologetic.’

He later said he didn’t remember much from that day, a sentiment echoed by other crew mates, posing a challenge to prosecution.

Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, opened fire on July 12, 2020, which sent a pungent smoke over San Diego and damaged the ship so badly that it had to be crushed. Of the 115 sailors on board, about 60 were treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

More than half a dozen former crew members of the USS Bonholm Richard testified on the first day of trial yesterday.  They described a harrowing and chaotic scene when they encountered a hell on a naval battleship, in the picture, with substandard equipment and because of the smoke, many did not know what the situation was.

More than half a dozen former crew members of the USS Bonholm Richard testified on the first day of trial yesterday. They described a harrowing and chaotic scene when they encountered a hell on a naval battleship, in the picture, with substandard equipment and because of the smoke, many did not know what the situation was.

Several former crew members testified that the lower vehicle storage area was littered with bottles, tools, generators, tractors, and other equipment while the ship was passing ashore in San Diego, a two-year, $250 million upgrade pier.

there was fire About 400 sailors from 16 ships, several helicopters dumping water from above, were snuffed out by the Naval Base San Diego Fire Department and several volunteer fire departments from nearby cities.

At least 63 people were injured, including 18 firefighters who filed workers’ compensation for victims’ compensation, orthopedic issues, dehydration and smoke inhalation.

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

The blame was spread by the Navy to all ranks and responsibilities, who directly blamed the ship’s three top officers.

No physical evidence has been presented by the prosecution to prove that Mays set the USS Bonholm Richard on fire.

This is something the defense has uncovered. Meanwhile, key witnesses have changed their stories or testimonies contradicted each other, including yesterday.

Defending Mace, military defense attorney Lieutenant Tyler Haggerty said in his opening remarks that its Navy was wrong and the conclusion that the 21-year-old, pictured, started the fire, was made before the investigation was complete.

Defending Mace, military defense attorney Lieutenant Tyler Haggerty said in his opening remarks that its Navy was wrong and the conclusion that the 21-year-old, pictured, started the fire, was made before the investigation was complete.

Military defense attorney Lieutenant Tyler Haggerty said in his opening remarks that its Navy’s finding that it was wrong and that the 21-year-old started the fire was done before the investigation was complete.

Lieutenant Haggerty said he then ignored evidence and witnesses’ accounts that did not fit that narrative in order to find a scapegoat for the loss of a billion-dollar ship that was mismanaged by senior officers.

She said: ‘Once investigators placed the blame on Mays, who was known for being sarcastic and playful, ‘nothing else mattered.’

‘Just because the government destroys the evidence, ignores it, does not mean that the court should do so.’

And he said that by the end of the trial the judge would acquit the sailor and find him not guilty of both charges.

The 21-year-old has been charged with serious arson and intentionally endangering the ship, but has denied any wrongdoing.

Mays waived his right to jury and placed his trust in the hands of Navy Judge Captain Derek Butler.

Lawyers defending Mays say investigators downplayed the fact that the lithium battery was stored next to materials that were highly combustible such as cardboard boxes, a violation of ship protocol.

According to prosecutors, before the fire broke out, a sailor told investigators that he saw Mace going to the ship’s lower vehicle storage area.

Another sailor who escorted Mace to the brig said he heard him say he did.

But defense says he was sarcastic after investigators denied wrongdoing during more than 10 hours of interrogation.

Lawyers defending the mess pictured yesterday say investigators downplayed the fact that lithium batteries were stored next to materials that were highly combustible such as cardboard boxes, a violation of ship protocol

Lawyers defending the mess pictured yesterday say investigators downplayed the fact that lithium batteries were stored next to materials that were highly combustible such as cardboard boxes, a violation of ship protocol

On June 14, 2020, two days after the fire broke out, Mays posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the caption, 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning.'  Pressured by investigators about this, Mays said it was a reference to the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, about the Vietnam War.

On June 14, 2020 – two days after the fire broke out – Mays posted a photo of herself to Instagram, which read, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning.’ Pressured by investigators about this, Mays said it was a reference to the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, about the Vietnam War.

On June 14, 2020 – two days after the fire broke out – Mays posted a photo of herself to Instagram, which read, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning.’ Pressured by investigators about this, Mays said it was a reference to the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, about the Vietnam War.

Mace was also asked about the alleged self-degrading comments the sailors said they heard him making, but he denied ever making them and agreed to take a polygraph. According to the affidavit, there were “indications of deception” during the trial in response to several pertinent questions related to the incidents of the fire.

The affidavit said that when he was informed of the polygraph results, Mays was “extremely upset and denied any involvement in starting the fire.”

Investigators also noted several red flags from Mace’s personal life, including a lie that he broke up with a female sailor after learning she was pregnant with another man. The warrant said investigators later learned that it was mostly denied by a female sailor.

That sailor, US Sailor Petty Officer Third Class Armel Ann, said that Mace told everyone she was pregnant and that he was the father, but said she was never pregnant and that people even got a test to prove it. According to the search warrant, he also told investigators that Mess was “unstable and bipolar”.

The affidavit said, however, Mays made conflicting statements to officers about where he had kept his computer, “possibly with the aim of frustrating the investigation,” before investigators found it.

American Sailor Petty Officer Third Class Armale Ann, pictured, said that Mace told everyone she was pregnant and that he was the father, but said she was never pregnant and even asked people to prove it. A test was also found for

American Sailor Petty Officer Third Class Armale Ann, pictured, said that Mace told everyone she was pregnant and that he was the father, but said she was never pregnant and even asked people to prove it. A test was also found for

Investigators said the center mess pictured caught fire in 2021 but a Navy report last year concluded the fire was preventable and unacceptable

Investigators said the center mess pictured caught fire in 2021 but a Navy report last year concluded the fire was preventable and unacceptable

Elsewhere, the defense dismissed details that later pointed to another sailor fired from the Navy.

Investigators said the mess started the fire but a Navy report last year concluded the fire could have been prevented and was unacceptable.

It also concluded that there were deficiencies in training, communication, coordination, fire preparedness, equipment maintenance and overall command and control.

Retired Navy Captain Lawrence B. Brennan, an adjunct professor of admiralty and international maritime law at Fordham Law School, said prosecutors had finished their work for it.

He said: ‘There are questions about the identities of people around the fire and possible causes other than the arson.

‘In addition, the flames and firefighting efforts damaged, if not destroyed, the crime scene and important evidence.’

Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk /

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