The US Navy sailor accused of setting the fireplace that destroyed the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard had dropped out of SEAL coaching after simply 5 days and was described by a former girlfriend as being “bipolar,” courtroom paperwork from the early levels of the investigation have revealed.
Ryan Mays, 20, is charged by the navy with aggravated arson and the willful hazarding of a vessel in reference to the blaze, which burned for 4 days in July of final yr and injured greater than 60 sailors and civilians.
A 38-page search warrant affidavit — filed in US District Courtroom in San Diego this previous September and unsealed Tuesday — detailed the early days of the probe into the fireplace, together with interviews with Mays. The doc was initially obtained by The Every day Beast.
Based on the affidavit, Mays initially joined the Navy in 2019 to grow to be skilled within the service’s Superior Electronics/Pc Discipline. Nevertheless, Mays later determined to grow to be a Navy SEAL and enrolled in Fundamental Underwater Demolition coaching.
Mays pulled out of SEAL coaching after 5 days in October 2019 and was reassigned to the Bonhomme Richard. The doc makes a degree of noting that “the morale and conduct of sailors who had aspired to grow to be a SEAL, after which discover themselves serving in a extra conventional function on a Navy ship, are steadily very difficult.”
The affidavit provides that the ship’s Command Grasp Chief Jose Hernandez informed investigators that Mays confirmed “disdain in the direction of authority and the U.S. Navy,” whereas a sailor named Kenji Velasco stated that Mays “‘hates’ the U.S. Navy and the [Third] Fleet.”
Based on the doc, investigators discovered that three of the 4 firefighting stations closest to the realm of the ship the place the fireplace began confirmed proof that they’d been tampered with, the hoses having been lower or disconnected. Additionally they discovered bottles and cans close to the ignition web site containing small quantities of liquid. The affidavit stated the liquid present in one of many bottles examined optimistic for a “heavy petroleum distillate,” examples of which embrace “diesel, kerosene and jet gasoline.”
Sailors on the Bonhomme Richard reported seeing a sailor they believed to be Mays go all the way down to the ship’s decrease car storage space, the place the fireplace originated, shortly earlier than the blaze erupted July 12.
When investigators informed Mays he had been recognized because the sailor seen going under deck, Mays claimed that he was “being setup” and added that his cohorts couldn’t have recognized him as a result of “I had a face masks on.” Based on the affidavit, investigators had not informed Mays the suspicious sailor had been carrying a masks.
In the identical interview, which lasted for roughly 10 hours, Mays volunteered that he deliberate to reapply to be a Navy SEAL. He additionally claimed that he had dated and proposed marriage to a feminine sailor who was later shipped to Los Angeles aboard the Navy hospital ship Mercy within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on Mays, he had damaged up with the girl after she turned pregnant and he discovered he was not the daddy.
When investigators interviewed the feminine sailor, she denied that she had been engaged to Mays or had ever been pregnant, although she did recall Mays telling different sailors that he was going to be a father. Based on the doc, the feminine sailor described Mays as “risky and ‘bipolar.’”
Mays was arrested following the interview. The doc states that as he was being booked, Mays was heard by two sailors saying “that he was responsible, seemingly speaking to himself.”
Below the navy’s code of justice, a preliminary listening to might be held at which a presiding officer will assessment the proof towards Mays and suggest whether or not he must be court-martialed or whether or not the fees must be dropped.
Officers introduced in November of final yr that the Bonhomme Richard could be decommissioned and scrapped, citing estimates that making the vessel seaworthy once more would have taken as much as seven years and value greater than $3 billion.