USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, and the third ship of the United States Navy to bear the name.[2] She was named in honor of John Paul Jones' famous frigate, which he had named in French "Good Man Richard," in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the U.S. Ambassador to France at the time; "Richard" is derived from Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac.

Bonhomme Richard under way in January 2003.
United States
Name: Bonhomme Richard
Namesake: Bonhomme Richard, which literally means Goodman Richard
Ordered: 11 December 1992
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 18 April 1995
Launched: 14 March 1997
Commissioned: 15 August 1998
Homeport: San Diego, California
Motto: I have not yet begun to fight!
Nickname(s): Revolutionary Gator, Bonnie Dick, BHR, Rusty Roku
Status: in active service
General characteristics
Type: Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship
Displacement: 40,500 long tons (41,150 t) full load
Length: 843 ft (257 m)
Beam: 104 ft (31.8 m)
Draft: 27 ft (8.1 m)
Propulsion: Two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 shp (52,000 kW);
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Range: 9,500 nautical miles (17,600 km; 10,900 mi) at 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Well deck dimensions: 266-by-50-foot (81 by 15.2 m) by 28-foot (8.5 m) high
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Troops: 1,687 troops (plus 184 surge) Marine Detachment
Complement: 1,208
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 1 AN/SPS-49 2-D Air Search Radar
  • 1 AN/SPS-48 3-D Air Search Radar
  • 1 AN/SPS-67 Surface Search Radar
  • 1 Mk23 Target Acquisition System (TAS)
  • 1 AN/SPN-43 Marshalling Air Traffic Control Radar
  • 1 AN/SPN-35 Air Traffic Control Radar
  • 1 AN/URN-25 TACAN system
  • 1 AN/UPX-24 Identification Friend Foe
Aircraft carried:

The primary mission of Bonhomme Richard is to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft and amphibious vehicle, and if needed, to act as a light aircraft carrier

Bonhomme Richard is currently in active service and is the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group Three.[3]

Construction and career

The contract to build her was awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding on 11 December 1992, and her keel was laid down on 18 April 1995. She was launched on 14 March 1997, delivered to the Navy on 12 May 1998, and commissioned on 15 August 1998.


Bonhomme Richard departed her building yard, Ingalls Shipbuilding division of Litton Industries, Pascagoula, Mississippi, on 8 August 1998, sailing into Pensacola Harbor at Naval Air Station Pensacola for commissioning activities and culminating with the main ceremony, which was held on 15 August 1998.

U.S. Representative John P. Murtha, of Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District, delivered the principal commissioning address. Then Secretary of the Navy, John H. Dalton, placed the new ship in commission. Congressman Murtha's wife, Mrs. Joyce Murtha, served as Ship Sponsor, and christened the ship at Ingalls in May 1997. During the commissioning, Mrs. Murtha gave the traditional order to "Man our ship and bring her to life!"


Bonhomme Richard participated in several operations. From 24 January to 24 July 2000, the ship made the first Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment of any U.S. Navy ship in the 2000s as part of Operation Southern Watch. She deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom from 1 December 2001 to 18 June 2002.

Her next deployment was in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, beginning 17 January 2003 and lasting to 26 July 2003. Bonhomme Richard played two significant roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom; first, she offloaded more than 1,000 Marines and gear from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines into Kuwait. Second, after delivering her attack and transport helicopters, troops, and vehicles, she took up position just miles off the coast of Kuwait and became one of two light aircraft carriers, or "Harrier Carriers", along with USS Bataan in the Persian Gulf, launching AV-8B Harrier strike aircraft into Iraq. Pilots from Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) and VMA-311, embarked aboard Bonhomme Richard, expended more than 175,000 pounds (79,000 kg) of ordnance, providing close air support to the Marines on the ground and during predetermined strikes in Iraq. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bonhomme Richard launched more than 800 sorties, including 547 combat launches.

Beginning 6 December 2004, Bonhomme Richard detached as a supporting unit of Operation Iraqi Freedom and sailed to Sri Lanka to provide support for relief efforts following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its subsequent tsunamis. On 4 January 2005 the ship helped airlift relief supplies to the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.[4]

Bonhomme Richard deployed in Operation Unified Assistance from 5 January 2005 to February 2005. On a port visit in Guam on 28 December, the ship and her Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) were ordered to the Indian Ocean to help in relief efforts following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Her helicopters flew supplies and medical personnel into various areas of Indonesia, as well as evacuating the wounded.

The following July, Bonhomme Richard participated in RIMPAC 2006. From 23 May to November 2007 she joined up with two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, John C. Stennis and Nimitz and their Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) off the coast of Iran to carry out previously unannounced air and sea exercises. In July 2008, the ship took part in RIMPAC 2008 off the coast of Hawaii.

From September 2009 to April 2010, Bonhomme Richard deployed to the Fifth and Seventh Fleet Areas of Operations (AoR). Ports of call include East Timor, Phuket, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Oahu, Hawaii. In July she participated in RIMPAC 2010 in the Kaulakahi Channel, between Kauai and Niihau Islands, Hawaii, near the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

On 23 April 2012, Bonhomme Richard took the place of USS Essex as the command ship for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven and switched homeport from San Diego, California to Sasebo, Japan.[3]

During the summer of 2013, Bonhomme Richard participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2013. Maneuvers were performed off Queensland, Australia and in the Coral Sea. After the exercise, the ship sailed for Sydney, arriving 16 August 2013.[5]

Bonhomme Richard assisted in the air-sea rescue operation of the capsized South Korean ferry with helicopters on 16 April 2014.[6]

In June 2017, Bonhomme Richard participated in Exercise Talisman Saber 2017 involving more than 33,000 Australian and U.S. troops.[7] Alongside Bonhomme Richard, 20 other ships and over 200 aircraft took part in what was Australia's largest exercise to date.[8] This was followed by a week long port call in Melbourne.

On 8 May 2018, Bonhomme Richard completed her homeport change to San Diego. [9]


On 5 August 2017, after taking off from Bonhomme Richard a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit crashed in Shoalwater Bay on the east coast of Australia. 23 personnel were rescued, while three died, but their bodies were recovered about three weeks later.[10][11][12]

Shield and Crest

Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally used by the United States Navy. The red, white, and blue shield reflects the national colors of the United States and suggests its coat of arms. The six red stripes represent the ship's hull number as well as the six coins placed beneath the mast during mast stepping; red being the color of valor and sacrifice. The gold fleur-de-lis highlights the heritage of the first ship named Bonhomme Richard. The wreath of two green laurel branches symbolizes honor and high achievement commemorating the two previous ships carrying the name Bonhomme Richard. The eagle, overlooking the fleur-de-lis, adapted from historic flags and documents of the American Revolutionary era, symbolizes the fighting spirit, patriotic fervor, and tenacity of both John Paul Jones and the United States Navy. The eagle is flanked by six gold stars representing the battle stars earned by the second Bon Homme Richard during World War II and the Korean War underscoring the heritage and continuing resolve of the fighting Navy. The chief is blue with a wavy edge suggesting a shoreline and reflecting the amphibious mission of Bonhomme Richard. The trident is emblematic of sea prowess and power from the sea; It has wings to commemorate the second Bon Homme Richard, an aircraft carrier and the three tines further represent the three areas of that ship's sea battle service: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The trident is scarlet, a color traditionally used by the United States Marine Corps, and highlights action and zeal thus underscoring the ship's assault and battle insertion mission combining the land, sea, and air elements of the fighting force. The trident, synergistically combined with the crossed U.S. Navy and Marine swords, symbolizes combat readiness and teamwork highlighting the current LHD's potent amphibious and heliborne assault capabilities in the deployment of forces ashore.

Unit awards

Bonhomme Richard has been awarded the Navy Battle "E" eight times

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2006
  • 2007[13]
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2013 [14]

The following is a list of awards by year awarded.

  • 2015
  • 2005
    • Command, Control, Communications and Information Warfare Excellence Award
    • Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence Award
    • Green 'H' for Force Wellness Award
  • 2004
    • Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence Award
  • 2003
    • Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence Award
  • 2002
    • Maritime Warfare Excellence Award
    • Engineering Excellence Award
    • Command, Control, Communications and Information Warfare Excellence Award
    • Green 'H' Force Wellness Award
    • Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award
    • Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Retention Excellence Award
    • Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Intelligence Excellence Award
  • 2001
    • Navy Unit Commendation (11 September 2001 to 3 March 2002)
    • CNO Safety Award
    • Maritime Warfare Excellence Award
    • Engineering Excellence Award
    • Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence Award
    • Green 'H' for Force Wellness Award
    • Allen G. Ogden Award
    • Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award
  • 2000
    • CNO Safety Award
    • Maritime Warfare Excellence Award
    • Engineering Excellence Award
    • Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence Award
    • Green 'H' for Force Wellness Award
    • Allen G. Ogden Award
    • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (22 March 2000 to 8 June 2000)
  • 1999
    • CNO Safety Award
    • Green 'H' for Force Wellness Award
    • Allen G. Ogden Award
  • 1998
    • Green 'H' for Force Wellness Award

Bonhomme Richard was used for various scenes in the 2012 movie Battleship. Sailors from the ship were used as extras in scenes.

The ship was also used for several scenes in the 2012 movie Act of Valor.[15]


  1. "Fact File: Amphibious Assault Ships - LHD/LHA(R)". U.S. Navy. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  2. "LHD-1 Wasp class". Federation of American Scientists. 9 May 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  3. Burke, Matthew M. (23 April 2012). "Navy crews swap ships during Sasebo ceremony". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  4. "USS Bonhomme Richard Positions More Than 200,000 Pounds of Disaster Relief Supplies". Archived from the original on 4 January 2005.
  5. "The Revolutionary Gator Arrives in Sydney, Australia". 16 August 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  6. Rowland, Ashley (16 April 2014). "USS Bonhomme Richard Heads to Capsized Korea Ferry". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  7. "'Be more lethal': Major Australia & US joint military exercise kicks off in Pacific". RT International. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  8. "Australia, United States begin their biggest joint military exercise". Reuters. 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  9. "USS Bonhomme Richard Arrives in San Diego, Completes Homeport Shift". 9 May 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  10. "US military helicopter crashes off Queensland; three feared dead". The Daily Telegraph. 5 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  11. "31st MEU Holds Sunset Memorial Service for Three Marines Killed in Osprey Crash". 11 August 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  12. "Bodies of 3 Marines who died in Osprey crash have been recovered". 25 August 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  13. Velazquez, Elena (4 March 2008). "COMNAVSURFOR Announces Winners of Battle "E"" (Press release). United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  14. Burleson, Lance (4 April 2014). "USS Bonhomme Richard Earns Battle "E"" (Press release). United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  15. "Spec Ops Screen Idols: Act of Valor". Military Times. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
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