A French translation of Benjamin Franklin's nom de plume, "Poor Richard." When John Paul Jones received the Duc de Duras from the King of France, Louis XVI, he renamed the former French East Indiaman Bonhomme Richard to honor Franklin, the American Commissioner at Paris whose famous almanacs had been published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.
Bon Homme Richard--projected as a Wampanoag-class cruiser to raid British commerce had the British entered the Civil War on the South's behalf--was to have been built at the Washington Navy Yard. Work on the machinery for this warship was begun in 1864, but tension between the United States and Great Britain subsided before the construction of her hull began, and the order for her construction was cancelled.
Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) is considered the second ship of the name despite the difference in spelling, an error which may have crept in as early as the 1860s when the name was assigned to the steam frigate that was never built and which later was compounded, no doubt, by the haste with which an enormous number of ships had to be named during World War II.
The sceond Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) was launched 29 April 1944 by New York Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. J. S. McCain, wife of Vice Admiral McCain; and commissioned 26 November 1944, Captain A. O. Rule, Jr., in command.
Bon Homme Richard departed norfolk 19 March 1945 to join the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor 5 April 1945. Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined TF 38 off Okinawa 6 June 1945. During 7-10 June she joined in the attacks on Okino Daito Jima nad then served with the 3rd Fleet during the air strikes against Japan (2 July-15 August). She remained off Japan until 16 September and after a short training period off Guam, proceeded to San Francisco, arrving 20 October. She left San Francisco 29 October and steamed to Pearl Harbor to undergo conversion for troop transport duty. From 8 November 1945 to 16 January 1946 she made trans-Pacific voyages, returning servicemen to the United States. Bon Homme Richard was recommissioned 15 January 1951 and on 10 May departed San Diego for the Far East. She joined TF 77 off Korea on 29 May and launched her first air strikes 31 May. Bon Homme Richard continued operations with TF 77 until 20 November 1951. The carrier reached San Diego in mid-December and on 20 May 1952 was off again to the Far East. She joined TF 77 once more on 23 June and took part in the heavy strikes against the North Korean power complex (24-25 June) and the amphibious feint at Kojo (12-16 October). She continued operations against North Korean targets until 18 December 1952 and then steamed to San Francisco where she arrived 8 January 1953. Her classification was changed from CV-31 to CVA-31, 1 October 1952.
Bon Homme Richard went out of commission 15 May 1953 preparatory to modernization. Whe recommissioned 6 September 1955, she had an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed bow, enlarged elevators, and steam catapults. She completed her conversion period 31 October 1955 and commended sea trials in the Alameda-San Diego area. Bon Homme Richard has since continued to serve with the Pacific Fleet and has made two tours of the Far East.
Bon Homme Richard received one battle star for her World War II service and five battle stars for participation in the Korean conflict.
Bon Homme Richard was decommissioned on 2 July 1971 and struck from the Navy list on 20 September 1989. She was disposed of by scrapping on 4 February 1992.
Update pending for 1955 to 1971.
9 January 2006