Ashland man faces charges for starting fire on Navy warship


ASHLAND, Ky. (WTVQ/ABC) – New details have become available in the case against a U.S. Navy sailor accused of setting fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard.

Naval authorities are identifying Ryan Sawyer Mays, 20, of Ashland as the suspected arsonist.

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In a newly-unsealed federal search warrant, one witness told investigators he believes he saw Mays heading to the lower stowage area where the fire began. That witness also said Mays hates the U.S. Navy and the fleet.

Mays had dropped out of Navy SEAL training after five days in 2019, before being reassigned to the USS Bonhomme Richard.

The massive blaze broke out last July on the large amphibious assault ship docked in San Diegeo. At least 71 people were injured.

Investigators found a bottle that tested positive for highly flammable liquids and evidence of a tampered crime scene, including fire hoses that had been disconnected.

The blaze gutted the warship, forcing the Navy to put it out of service in April. The estimated cost to replace it is over $4 billion dollars.

Mays is charged with aggravated arson and willfully hazarding a vessel. His lawyer said there is no evidence that directly points to Mays and that his client was not angry about his SEAL experience. Mays maintains his innocence.