The US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) has been burning for a day, the first of what could be a multi-day fight to get the fire under control.

A fire broke out on the USS Bonhomme Richard at around 8:30 am Sunday (local time) at Naval Base San Diego, California.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told reporters Sunday evening that while "there was a report of an internal explosion," the Navy is still unclear on the cause of the fire. He insists the ship will sail again.

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. John J. Mike

Source: USNI News

When the fire broke out, only 160 of the 1,000 crew members that normally man the big-deck amphib were on board.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross

The Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious flattop that can launch jump-jets like the AV-8B Harrier, as well as attack helicopters. It also has a well deck that can be flooded to transport Marine vehicles to shore for a beach assault.

The 22-year-old ship is powered by boilers.

The Navy said Monday morning that 57 people, to include Navy sailors and civilians, have been treated for minor injuries, to include heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Five people remain hospitalized.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross

Navy and local firefighters were on the scene and responding to the fire shortly after the reports came in.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department released footage of the response, as well as a video shot from the air of the fire burning aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard on its Twitter page.

The USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned in 1998, was in a maintenance availability, one which involved retrofitting the ship to carry the short take-off/vertical landing F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, at the time of the fire.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Kofonow

The fight to get the fire under control continued into the evening, as the ship continued to burn. Images from the scene appeared to show the fire burning in the superstructure after tearing through the lower levels of the ship.

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist

Fires are dangerous to fight aboard ship, especially if they near fuel reservoirs or magazines where ammunition is stored.

They also can cause damages extensive damage to many of the ship's critical systems. It took firefighters 12 hours to extinguish a 2012 shipyard fire on a submarine, which had been set by a civilian contractor. The repair estimates, of up to $700 million, were so high the service opted to decommission the USS Miami.

At 10:30 pm Sunday, helicopters outfitted for firefighting operations from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three dumped water on the burning warship.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross

The ship was still on fire Monday morning. San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said Sunday that it is very possible that the USS Bonhomme Richard could burn for days "down to the waterline."

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist

Source: CNN

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