USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Bonhomme Richard.
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)
Bonhomme Richard under way in January 2003.
United States
Name: USS Bonhomme Richard
Namesake: Bonhomme Richard
Ordered: 11 December 1992
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 18 April 1995
Launched: 14 March 1997
Commissioned: 15 August 1998
Homeport: Sasebo, Japan
Motto: I have not yet begun to fight!
Nickname(s): Revolutionary Gator, Bonnie Dick, BHR, Rusty Roku
Status: in active service, as of 2015
Badge: USS Bonhomme Richard COA.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Wasp-class amphibious assault ship
Displacement: 40,500 tons
Length: 844 ft (257 m)
Beam: 106 ft (32 m)
  • 27 ft (8.2 m) navigational
  • 28 ft (8.5 m) limit
  • Steam turbines, two shafts
  • 70,000 shp (52 MW)
  • 2 x 600 psi (4.1 MPa) boilers
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Range: 9,500 nautical miles (17,600 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)
Troops: 1,800
  • Embarked ships company: 104 officers, 1004 enlisted
  • Embarked Marine detachment: 1894 officers and enlisted
Aircraft carried:

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

The ship is currently in active service and is the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven.[1]

Construction and career[edit]

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 its 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. The Secretary of the Navy, John H. Dalton, placed the new ship in commission. Congressman Murtha's wife, Mrs. Joyce Murtha, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, served as Ship's Sponsor for LHD-6, and christened the ship at Ingalls in May 1997. During LHD-6's commissioning, Mrs. Murtha gave the traditional order to "Man our ship and bring her to life!"


The primary mission of USS 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.

USS Bonhomme Richard underway in the Pacific Ocean.
USS Bonhomme Richard off Oahu the day of her arrival for RIMPAC 2008.

Bonhomme Richard participated in several operations. From 24 January to 24 July 2000, the ship made the first Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment of any US 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.

The 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, the ship offloaded more than 1,000 Marines and gear from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines into Kuwait. Then, 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 "Harrier Carriers" along with USS Bataan in the Persian Gulf—launching AV-8B Harrier strike aircraft into Iraq. Pilots from Marine Attack Squadrons 211 and 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, the 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.[2]

The assault ship deployed in Operation Unified Assistance from 5 January 2005 to February 2005. On a port visit in Guam on 28 December, Bonhomme Richard and her expeditionary strike group 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.

Bonhomme Richard participated in RIMPAC 2006 in July 2006. From 23 May to November 2007 she joined with two carrier groups (John C. Stennis and Nimitz) 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. 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 PMRF.

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.[1]

In July-August 2013, Bonhomme Richard participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2013. Maneuvers were performed off Queensland, Australia and in the Coral Sea. The ship arrived in Sydney on 16 August 2013 after the end of the exercise.[3]

Bonhomme Richard assisted in the air-sea rescue operation of the capsized South Korean ferry with helicopters on 16 April 2014.[4]

Shield and Crest[edit]

USS Bonhomme Richard‍ '​s ship 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[edit]

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

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2006
  • 2007[5]
  • 2011
  • 2013 [6]

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

List of commanding officers[edit]

Name Term of office
CAPT Jeffrey A. Ward[7] 24 April 2015 - present
CAPT Murray Joe "JT" Tynch III[8] 1 October 2013 - 24 April 2015
CAPT Daniel P. Dusek[9] 28 June 2012 - 1 October 2013
CAPT David P. Fluker[1] 23 April 2012 - 28 June 2012
CAPT Charles E. Litchfield[10] 3 February 2012 - 23 April 2012
CAPT Jonathan L. Harnden[10] 10 July 2010 - 3 February 2012
CAPT John W. Funk 13 January 2009 - 10 July 2010
CAPT Neil R. Parrott 14 June 2007 - 13 January 2009
CAPT Steve Greene 31 August 2005 - 14 June 2007
CAPT Jeffery Scott Jones 5 August 2004 - 31 August 2005
CAPT Jon F. Berg-Johnsen 18 February 2003 - 5 August 2004
CAPT Stanley Vincent DeGeus 20 September 2001 - 18 February 2003
CAPT Robert Jeffrey Connelly 24 April 2000 - 20 September 2001
CAPT Douglas Wayne Keith 15 April 1998 - 24 April 2000

Note: CAPT Fluker took command of Bonhomme Richard after being in command of Essex since January 2011 before the hull swap and shortly before he was scheduled to turn over command to CAPT Dusek. The short time he is recorded as being in command of LHD 6 is not indicative of the time he spent in command of the ship's crew.[11]

CAPT Dusek was relieved of his command due to his involvement in the 2013 Navy Corruption Investigation of Glenn Marine Defense Asia a subsidiary of Glenn Marine Group. CAPT Dusek later pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in the form of prostitutes and luxury hotel stays.[12]

Popular culture[edit]

The ship 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.[13]


  1. ^ a b c Burke, Matthew M. (23 April 2012). "Navy crews swap ships during Sasebo ceremony". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "USS Bonhomme Richard Positions More Than 200,000 Pounds of Disaster Relief Supplies". [dead link]
  3. ^ "The Revolutionary Gator Arrives in Sydney, Australia". 16 August 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Rowland, Ashley (16 April 2014). "USS Bonhomme Richard Heads to Capsized Korea Ferry". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Velazquez, Elena (4 March 2008). "COMNAVSURFOR Announces Winners of Battle "E"" (Press release) (NNS080304-08). United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Burleson, Lance (4 April 2014). "USS Bonhomme Richard Earns Battle "E"" (Press release) (NNS140404-01). United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Wainwright, Adam D. (26 April 2015). "Bonhomme Richard Holds Change of Command" (Press release) (NNS150426-06). United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Burke, Matthew M. (2 October 2013). "2nd high-ranking Navy officer relieved of duty as bribery probe expands". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Jerome J. (28 June 2012). "Bonhomme Richard Holds Change of Command". United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "USS Bonhomme Richard Holds Change of Command". United States Navy. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "CAPT David Fluker". United States Navy. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Craig Whitlock (15 January 2015). "Navy captain enters guilty plea in massive bribery case". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Spec Ops Screen Idols: Act of Valor". Military Times. Retrieved 26 February 2012. [dead link]

External links[edit]