Gen. Gha’ani on Conflagration Aboard U.S. Warship:
TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Tuesday a conflagration and a subsequent blast that hit a huge American warship is the result of the U.S. government’s own crimes.
At least 60 people were injured when a fire and an explosion broke out Sunday on a U.S. Navy warship that was docked in San Diego, causing heavy damage, The New York Times reported.
The ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, had been docked at the U.S. naval base when a fire was reported in a lower cargo hold that is used for vehicle storage, the Navy said. It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire or the explosion. The fire was still burning on Tuesday morning for the third day.
Brigadier General Esmail Qa’ani, commander of the Quds Force, urged the Americans "not to waste their time looking for a culprit or leveling accusations against others” over what happened. "This is a fire they (Americans) have lit themselves,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal said the fire aboard the amphibious assault ship showed no sign of abating, raising fears that one of the few U.S. Navy ships that can operate like a mini aircraft carrier is damaged beyond repair.
"This incident is a response to your crimes, which has come about at the hands of your own elements,” Qa’ani said, addressing American leaders. "God uses your own hands to punish you.”
What is unfolding in the U.S. today, especially the warship incident "is the result of the U.S. administration’s actions, behavior, and atrocities,” the general said.
The Americans, Gen. Qa’ani said, have been afflicted with divine wrath and retribution because they tried to skew the divine word and resorted to oppression.
Qa’ani — who was assigned to head the Quds Force after the U.S. assassinated General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad in early January — said the United States and the occupying regime of Israel were headed for more serious hardship and adversity.
"You are still experiencing your halcyon days. You have very tough days and occurrences ahead of you,” he said.
The U.S. military, Gen. Qa’ani said, has turned into a "tired and decrepit” force, and its equipment has degraded into "scrap iron.”
Washington has to accept its dire conditions and stop oppressing the humanity and its own people, he added.
More firefighting efforts were underway Tuesday morning as crews labored to contain a super-hot, explosive blaze that has injured scores of military personnel and civilians and caused extensive damage to the warship, CBS News reported.
The conflagration has sent temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees in parts of the vessel, leaving it listing in the water.
Adding to the dangers posed by the inferno, the flames were burning several decks away from a section in the ship where a million gallons of oil is housed, Rear Admiral Sobeck.
About two hours after the fire began, a blast of unknown origin shook the vessel. There were 160 sailors and officers aboard the ship when the fire broke out, Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke said.
About four hours after the ship began burning, the Navy moved the USS Fitzgerald and USS Russell to berths farther away from the fire, according to Mike Raney, deputy public affairs officer with the Naval Surface Force.
The cause of the blaze remains unknown, Sobeck said. Because the vessel was undergoing maintenance work when the fire broke out, its built-in flame-suppression system was inoperative, he told reporters.
Officials in National City asked residents to remain in their homes as much as possible to avoid health hazards from the smoke billowing off the burning ship. Likewise, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District Office noted that if residents can smell acrid smoke, they should limit physical activity and stay indoors if possible.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the fire is expected to be burning for a few days.
The Bonhomme Richard has been homeported at Naval Base San Diego since the spring of 2018, when it returned from a six-year port switch to Sasebo, Japan, while becoming the command ship for Navy Expeditionary Strike Group Seven
It is one of eight Wasp-class amphibious assault ships and can carry more than 1,000 sailors, according to the Navy. Its cost has been estimated at $761 million by the Federation of American Scientists.
The Bonhomme Richard is capable of carrying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. It is outfitted to carry landing craft to transport equipment and troops as well as landing boats. It is 847 feet long and has a crew of 102 officers and just over 1,000 sailors.