Navy sailor Ryan Mays not guilty of setting fire to ship

A 21-year-old sailor has been found not guilty of setting the devastating fire that destroyed The $1.2 billion USS Bonholm Richard Amphibious Assault Ship in California, a Navy judge ruled Friday.

Ryan Sawyer Mays, who was charged with arson in the July 2020 Hell and intentionally endangering a ship, broke down in tears as the ruling came after nine days of trial at Naval Base San Diego.

“I’m so grateful that it’s finally over,” Mays said outside the court, according to USNI News, “I’ve been waiting a long time.”

The sailor said the past two years “have been the toughest in my entire life” and he is grateful to the judge for approving his name.

“I’ve lost time with friends. I’ve lost friends,” Mace said. “I’ve lost time with family, and my entire Navy career is ruined. I look forward to starting again.”

USS Bonholm Richard on fire
He was charged in July 2020 with arson and intentionally endangering a ship that destroyed an amphibious assault ship in San Diego.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a disgruntled and arrogant sailor Joe was furious about being assigned to deck duty after failing to become a Navy SEAL.

He accused the then 19-year-old Mace of setting up cardboard boxes in a lower vehicle storage area to take home an earlier text message he had sent to his division officer that the ship had become so disorganized that it ” dangerous”.

Prosecutors produced no physical evidence to suggest Mays set fire to the ship—a fact that his defense team carried throughout the trial.

Mays was formally charged in July 2021 after a fellow sailor claimed to have seen him in the lower deck area.

His defense argued during his trial that investigators had rushed to judgment and failed to collect evidence that could show a lithium-ion battery or a sparking forklift could have been the source of the fire.

ship's firefighters
The fire continued to burn for nearly five days and injured more than 60 sailors and civilians.
US Navy/Christina Ross handout/e

Their chief defense attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Jordi Torres argued in closing statements that “apparently having a lighter can set you on fire”—referring to the fact that investigators found a small lighter among Mace’s personal property.

“Seaman Recruit Mays was found not guilty of intentionally endangering the ship and arson,” US Three Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Samuel R. Boyle said in the wake of the decision.

“The Navy is committed to upholding the principles of due process and fair trial.”

The fire, which continued to burn for nearly five days and injured more than 60 sailors and civilians, occurred when the USS Bonholm Richard was docked and was undergoing maintenance.

Prosecutors admitted during the trial that a Navy report last year concluded that the fire was allowed to burn for several days due to a series of personal and systemic failures – including that the crew would not be properly trained in preparing for the fire.

Over 20 senior officers and sailors were disciplined in the wake of the fire.

post with wires

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