Disciplinary hearings for some of the dozens of sailors, officers and admirals faulted for the Navy’s failure to extinguish the massive fire aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard last year began Thursday in San Diego.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commanding officer Adm. Samuel Paparo held admiral’s mast disciplinary hearings that will continue into Friday, according to PACFLEET spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich.

The Navy’s main investigation into the July 2020 fire that destroyed the amphib found failures at all levels to extinguish the blaze, and recommended that 36 Navy officials, including five admirals, face potential discipline over a failure to stop the inferno.

Paparo is serving as the point man for deciding whether any of those 36 officials should be administratively disciplined.

Rebarich declined to say who is going before admiral’s mast this week, and said the Navy is deciding which disciplinary actions will be made public.

Paparo will consider additional cases after the New Year, she said.

Those recommended for discipline in the investigation include Bonhomme Richard’s command triad at the time of the fire, as well as the former head of Naval Surface Force Pacific, Vice Adm. Richard Brown, who retired in August 2020.

Meanwhile, a preliminary hearing was held this week to determine whether Seaman Ryan Sawyer Mays should go to trial on charges for starting the fire.

It remains unclear when the head of San Diego-based U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Stephen Koehler, will decide whether Mays’ charges should be referred to court-martial following this week’s preliminary hearing.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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