Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Bon Homme Richard III (LHD-6)


Historic ship name; a French translation of Benjamin Franklin's nom de plume, "Poor Richard," this is the third ship to bear this name. The first was commanded by John Paul Jones who 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. Jones captured the 44-gun British frigate Serapis from this ship which ultimately sank after the battle. The second (CV-31) received one battle star for her World War II service, five battle stars for participation in the Korean War, and ten battle stars for participation in the Vietnam War. She also received two Meritorious Unit Commendations, two navy Unit Commendations, and the Presidential Unit Citation. This ship was decommissioned on 2 July 1971 and stricken from the Navy list on 20 September 1989. She was disposed of by scrapping on 4 February 1992.


(LHD-6: displacement 28,078 (light) 41,684 (full); length 847'; beam 106'; draft 28' ; speed 20+ knots; complement 1,204; troop capacity 1,687 (184 surge); armament 2 RAM launchers; 2 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers; 3 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; 4 .50 caliber machine guns; 4 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns; aircraft: 12 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters; 4 CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; 6 AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft; 3 UH-1N Huey helicopters; 4 AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter (planned capability to embark MV-22 Osprey VTOL tilt-rotors) and F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL aircraft). landing/attack craft 3 Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) or 2 Landing Craft, Utility (LCU); class Wasp).

The third Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) was laid down on 18 April 1995 at Ingalls Industries Incorporated Shipyard, Pascagoula, Ms.; launched on 14 March 1997; sponsored by Mrs. Joyce Murtha, wife of Representative, and former Marine Colonel, John Murtha; commissioned at Pascagoula, Ms. on 15 August 1998, Capt. Douglas W. Keith in command.

Bonhomme Richard- Coat of Arms


Argent, paly of six Gules a fleur-de-lis Or surmounted by a wreath of laurel Proper; on a chief wavy Azure a stylized American eagle with wings displayed grasping three arrows in its dexter talons and a shield bearing the coat of arms of the United States in its sinister talons between six mullets three and three all of the third. Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally used by the United States Navy. The red, white and blue shield reflects our national colors and suggests the coat of arms of the United States. 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 Bonhomme Richard. The King of France gave an armed ship to the American cause in 1779 that was placed under the command of John Paul Jones. Jones wanted a meaningful name for Americans and French alike, so he selected the pen name of Ben Franklin (then the U.S. Ambassador to France) and named the ship Bonhomme Richard in his honor. With his ship, John Paul Jones went on to defeat the British warship Serapis in one of the most famous sea battles in American history. 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 and adapted from historic flags and documents of the 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 (CV-31) 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.


From a wreath Argent and Gules a demi-trident of the like winged Azure interlaced with United States Navy and Marine Corps Officer swords saltirewise points down Proper. 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: WW II, Korea and Vietnam. The trident is scarlet, a color traditionally used by the U.S. 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 Corps swords, symbolizes combat readiness and teamwork, highlighting the current LHD's potent amphibious and heliborne assault capabilities in the deployment of forces ashore.


The coat of arms in full color as in the blazon, all upon a white background and enclosed within a dark blue oval border edged on the outside with a gold rope and bearing the inscription "USS BONHOMME RICHARD" at top and "LHD 6" in base all gold.


“I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT” -- John Paul Jones voiced this commitment to his ship and enemy during the epic sea battle of 1779 with HMS Serapis. This one statement of devotion to duty reflects the determination and spirit of the crew of LHD-6.

Bonhomme Richard- Joyce Murtha-sponsor-christens ship
Mrs. Joyce Murtha, the ship’s sponsor, christens Bonhomme Richard at Pascagoula, Miss. (U.S. Navy Photograph).

From December 2001 through June 2002 Bonhomme Richard deployed to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

Bonhomme Richard- Super Cobra takes off in support of Anaconda-4Mar2002-020304-M-2077K-051
An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter assigned to Helicopter Medium Squadron One Six Five, with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) Aviation Combat Element, takes off from the flight deck of Bonhomme Richard to conduct missions in support of Operation Anaconda. (Lance Cpl. Daniel Kelly, U.S. Marine Corps Photograph 020304-M-2077K-051, Photos).
Bonhomme Richard-deployed in support of Enduring Freedom-27Jan2003-030127-N-1352S-017
Aerial photo of Bonhomme Richard deployed as part of the seven-ship Amphibious Task Force West in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 27 January 2003. (Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jennifer Swader, U.S. Navy Photograph 030127-N-1352S-017, Photos).

On 17 January 2003 Bonhomme Richard deployed from San Diego. Embarked were marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; Marine Aircraft Group 13; Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13; and AV-8B Harrier Marine Attack Squadrons 211 and 311. The 3rd Battalion marines were off-loaded in Kuwait in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bonhomme Richard completed her mission in the Arabian Gulf on 25 May after back-loading marines and their equipment. While on station in the Arabian Gulf the ship launched more than 800 sorties including 547 combat launches  On 6 June the ship was detached from the Fifth Fleet AOR and was ordered to return to her homeport at San Diego.

Bonhomme Richard- CO watches Harrier-28Jan2003-030128-N-1665B-001
Capt. Stan V. DeGeus, Commanding Officer of Bonhomme Richard, watches an AV-8B Harrier hover within feet of the bridge window while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 28 January 2003. (Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Staci M. Bitzer, U.S. Navy Photograph 030128-N-1665B-001, Photos).

From 10-13 August 2004 Bonhomme Richard embarked AV-8B Harriers in preparation for serving as one of two “harrier carriers” in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After a period of train-up in the waters off California, Bonhomme Richard deployed with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 on 6 December. Other ships that deployed with ESG 5 were Thach (FFG-43), Rushmore (LSD-47), Duluth (LPD-6), Milius (DDG-69), Bunker Hill (CG-52), Pasadena (SSN-752), and USCGC Munro (WHEC-724). Bonhomme Richard made a port visit to Pearl Harbor Naval Station on 14 December. While in port, the Afloat Training Group (ATG) Middle Pacific certified the ship’s Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team. On 26 December an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia caused a massive tsunami which struck multiple countries on the Indian Ocean. On 28 December Bonhomme Richard cut short its port visit to Guam and set sail to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the stricken region. In preparation for the mission, the ship's crew loaded more than 300 palettes of supplies at Guam and also conducted flight operations to deliver supplies to Duluth (LPD-6) anchored in the harbor.

On 4 January 2005 helicopters attached to Bonhomme Richard airlifted more than 200,000 pounds of relief supplies from two warehouses on Sumatra. The crew and the embarked logisticians of ESG 5 and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) formed a Logistics Operations Command Center (LOCC) to coordinate relief efforts. On 10 January Bonhomme Richard’s attached Landing Craft, Air Cushion were used to deliver 34,000 pounds of aid ashore in the hard to reach, tsunami stricken town of Meulabah, Sumatra. This was the first time an LCAC was deployed ashore in Indonesia during Operation Unified Assistance. On 18 January Bonhomme Richard concluded disaster relief operations and steamed toward the U.S. Central Command area of operations. During their nine days of humanitarian assistance operations in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the ship and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) delivered more than a million pounds of humanitarian aid.

Bonhomme Richard- In Indian Ocean-8Jan2005-050108-N-3483C-010
Bonhomme Richard underway off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, 8 January 2005. (Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Robert S. Cole, U.S. Navy Photograph 050108-N-3483C-010, Photos).
Bonhomme Richard- bringing supplies into Meulabah-10Jan2005-050110-N-7586B-071
Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicles and Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters assigned to Bonhomme Richard deliver needed materials and supplies to Meulabah, 10 January 2005. (Photographer's Mate 1st Class Bart A. Bauer, U.S. Navy Photograph 050110-N-7586B-071, Photos).

On 26 January Bonhomme Richard arrived on station in the Arabian Gulf. On 28 January the ship steamed into Naval Support Activity, Bahrain for her first port visit since participating in Operation Unified Assistance. From 14-16 February Bonhomme Richard and the embarked 15th MEU conducted amphibious landings in the Arabian Gulf. Landing craft from Assault Craft Units 1 and 5 moved marines from Bonhomme Richard and her sister ships in both Amphibious Squadron 7 and ESG 5, Rushmore (LSD-47) and Duluth (LPD-6). After off-loading most of the 15th MEU for training exercises in Kuwait and operations in Iraq, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship made a five-day port visit to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates from 7-12 March. While deployed in the Arabian Gulf Bonhomme Richard served as the sea base for the 15th MEU and the command ship for Commander, Task Force (CTF) 58. She also maintained security in and around both the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals and operated in conjunction with the Royal Australian Navy Ship HMAS Darwin (FFGHM-4) in the conduct maritime security operations. From 9-16 April Bonhomme Richard backloaded the 15th MEU completed her mission in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. En route to her homeport at San Diego, the ship made a port call at Brisbane, Australia from 10-15 May. The multipurpose amphibious assault ship returned to San Diego on 6 June concluding a 182-day deployment. On 1 October the ship entered a floating drydock at General Dynamic's National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) for a Docked Planned Maintenance Availability (DPMA).

On 5 January 2006 Bonhomme Richard left NASSCO and returned to Naval Station San Diego. On 22 February she got underway and commenced post-DPMA sea trials. On 23 May Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney visited Bonhomme Richard at San Diego to thank the sailors and marines of ESG 1.

Bonhomme Richard- VP Cheney visit-23May2006-060523-N-4021H-095
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses sailors and marines on the flight deck of Bonhomme Richard, 23 May 2006. (Photographer's Mate Airman Damien Horvath, U.S. Navy Photograph 060523-N-4021H-095, Photos).

In July Bonhomme Richard participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2006. During the three-week tactical phase of the exercise, the ship performed multiple amphibious exercises with Special Purpose Marine Air/Ground Task Force 3, including a Non-Combatant Evacuation (NEO) exercise on the island of Kauai, a helicopter raid on Northern Oahu and a full amphibious assault on Oahu by landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC) and CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters. The ship returned to San Diego on 7 August.

On 20 January 2007 ESG 5's Aviation Combat Element (ACE) landed aircraft and loaded personnel and equipment on the flight deck of Bonhomme Richard. Two days later, on 22 January the ESG brought its Navy and Marine Corps team back together to participate in a pre-deployment ESG Integration Training exercise. In addition to Bonhomme Richard, the ships assigned to ESG 5 included Denver (LPD-9), Rushmore, Milius (DDG-69), Chosin (CG-65), and Chung-Hoon (DDG-93). On 8 February the ship successfully completed three days of assessment by the Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific as part of her pre-deployment training. On 24 March Bonhomme Richard ESG completed its third and final pre-deployment exercise. The ESG deployed in April and conducted maritime security operations in the international waters of the Northern Arabian Gulf for four months, including the area around Iraq's two oil platforms, the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals. On 19 November Bonhomme Richard, Denver, and Rushmore returned to San Diego.

On 27 June 2008 Bonhomme Richard pulled into Naval Station Pearl Harbor or a 14-day port visit. On 11 July the ship got underway to participate in RIMPAC 2008. During the exercise she transported a special marine air ground task force, consisting of units from the 3rd Marine Regiment and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, as well as units from the Australian and Canadian Armies and three observers from the Republic of Korea. On 13 July, during the exercise, Japanese SH-60 J helicopters attached to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 23 from the Japanese Defense Ship (JDS) Haruna (DDH-141) landed on Bonhomme Richard to familiarize themselves with U.S. Navy protocol and to maintain flight qualifications. On 16 July Commodore Nigel Greenwood, the Canadian Fleet Pacific commander, visited Bonhomme Richard. During his visit, Greenwood spoke to soldiers from Alpha Company (Red Devils) of 1 Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry embarked on board. Also, as part of the RIMPAC 2008 Foreign Observer Program, naval officers from Russia, Mexico, and Colombia visited the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship on 25 July. On 27 July General Walter Natynczyk, Canadian Chief of Defense Staff, spent more than four hours touring various spaces aboard the ship to get a better understanding of the Navy's amphibious lift capabilities. On 27-28 July the ship then completed a two-day non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) drill. On 1 August Bonhomme Richard sailed from Pearl Harbor completing RIMPAC 2008.

Bonhomme Richard- Canadian light infantry board at Pearl Harbor-10Jul2008-080710-N-1722M-121
Canadian Private Shaun Murphy, assigned to the "Red Devils" of A Company, 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, requests permission to board Bonhomme Richard at Pearl Harbor on 10 July 2008. (Mass Communication Specialist First Class Michael Moriatis U.S. Navy Photograph 080710-N-1722M-121, Photos).
Bonhomme Richard- CO greets Canadian General Natynczyk-27Jul2008- 080727-N-9493W-015
Capt. Neil Parrott, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard, welcomes General Walter Natynczyk, Canadian Chief of Defense Staff, 27 July 2008. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Webb, U.S. Navy Photograph 080727-N-9493W-015, Photos).

On 29 July 2009 Bonhomme Richard conducted a NEO drill with the 11th MEU. On 10 August the ship and the embarked 11th MEU got underway for a certification exercise (CERTEX) to prepare for deployment. On 24 September the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment. In addition to Bonhomme Richard, the ARG consisted of Cleveland (LPD-7) and Rushmore with the embarked 11th MEU. The ARG arrived in the Seventh Fleet area of operations on 2 October. The ARG then transited to the Savu Sea where it arrived to conduct a multilateral exercise in cooperation with the government of Timor-Leste. At the conclusion of her deployment, the ship returned to San Diego in early April 2010.

On 1 June 2010 Bonhomme Richard departed San Diego to participate in Exercise Dawn Blitz 2010. The ship joined joins other San Diego-based sea commands, as well as Marine Corps units from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the exercise to sharpen the marines’ ability to plan and conduct an amphibious assault. On 9 July she conducted a live-fire missile exercise while underway for RIMPAC 2010. On 29 September Bonhomme Richard prepared to start a DPMA period at Naval Station San Diego. The ship earned the Battle "E" award for its performance demonstrating the highest state of battle readiness in 2010.

On 28 July 2011 while transiting to Seattle Bonhomme Richard recovered her first Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

On 22 July 2013 the Bonhomme Richard ESG teamed up with forces from the George Washington Carrier Strike Group and the Australian Defence Force to conduct an air defense exercise (ADEX) in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2013. On 2 October 2013 Capt. Daniel Dusek, the commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard, was relieved of his duties by Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command. The relief stemmed from an ongoing Department of Justice investigation. After careful consideration, Wetherald determined the investigation negatively affected Dusek's leadership ability and was a distraction to the command mission. Capt. Murray Tynch III, the executive officer for Bonhomme Richard, assumed duties as commanding officer.

On 22-23 January 2015 Bonhomme Richard conducted an ammunition on-load at Sasebo, Japan in preparation for her next deployment in the Seventh Fleet area of responsibility. On 30 January the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), constituting Bonhomme Richard, amphibious dock landing ship Ashland (LSD-48) and amphibious transport dock Green Bay (LPD 20) embarked the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at Okinawa. During this deployment the Bonhomme Richard ARG conducted theater security cooperation exercises in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, completed a certification exercise (CERTEX), participated in amphibious integration training (AIT) and worked alongside the Republic of Korea navy and marine corps during the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP). The ARG completed its deployment in the Seventh Fleet area of operations on 10 April.

Bonhomme Richard- leaving Okinawa-30Aug2015-150830-N-TW634-079
Tug boats guide Bonhomme Richard as the ship gets underway from White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, 30 August 2015. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins, U.S. Navy Photograph 150830-N-TW634-079, Photos).

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Navy Unit Citation

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation

Navy Battle "E" Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (2)

Detailed history pending.

Christopher B. Havern Sr.

2 December 2015

Published: Thu Feb 18 10:13:05 EST 2016