Navy Charges Bonhomme Richard Sailor in Devastating 2020 Fire of Amphibious Assault Ship

From the NYT article:
…the Navy formally charged Seaman Mays with aggravated arson and hazarding a vessel last month but declined to provide additional details until federal search warrants were unsealed by a federal court in San Diego on Tuesday.

Documents filed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service describe a sailor who “hated” the Navy after being sent to a warship following a brief stint as a SEAL trainee in late 2019…

…A lawyer representing Seaman Mays said his client had “maintained his innocence throughout this entire ordeal.”…“He’s presumed innocent, and we look forward for the opportunity to review the evidence and presenting a case on his behalf,”

…According to the N.C.I.S., a witness identified Seaman Mays as the only person who entered a vehicle storage area deep within the ship the morning of the fire, shortly before smoke was seen rising from that compartment. The report said that he may have left the storage area through an escape trunk and returned to his berthing area. A second sailor recalled Seaman Mays coming into the berthing area to “tell everyone to get off the ship because the ship was on fire.”…

…Seaman Mays filled out a questionnaire for investigators eight days after the fire broke out, and was the only member of the crew aboard the ship on July 12, 2020, who reported smelling a “burning fuel/rubbery smell” from the fire, the documents said…

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I hope everyone here remembers when the IOWA’s turret suffered an explosion in the 80’s. The Navy blamed it on an allegedly “gay” gunners mate who sabotaged the silk bags of powder by placing some material between the bags. It was only after a civilian at Scandia labs, who, I believe was working on his own theory, discovered that if the bags of gunpowder were dropped from enough height, it would explode.

The Navy then revised the cause, suggesting that an inexperienced “rammer” had rammed the powder bags either too fast, or too far, compressing them into the 16"shell that had been previously rammed.

If one watches the 16" navy training film about loading, you’ll see the difference in speed of ramming powder bags vs the shell.

Personally, I hope the Navy has it right - and then hangs the guy. But for now, I’m “very, very cautious”.


Looks like the Navy finally identified their scapegoat.

The guy may or may not be guilty. I’ve seen plenty of disgruntled Sailors; most of them actually did do their jobs.

Unfortunately, with the Navy’s recent track record for questionable legal decisions, I’m not holding my breath that this guy is actually guilty or is guilty of what they claim. The Navy has a long tradition of scapegoating to cover it’s institutional behind, at low and high levels.

It’s sad that they’ve made me this cynical.