Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group
Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group
LHD-6 Bonhomme Richard
On 30 November 2020 the Navy announced plans to scrap the 22-year old USS Bonhomme Richard after determining repairs from the fire in July 2020 would be too costly and take too long. The Navy had examined three options for the ship — repairing it to fully mission-capabile, refurbishing it as a tender or hospital ship, or decommissioning. The Navy concluded that the cost of repairs was between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion, with five to seven years needed to repair the ship. Navy leadership decided the ship will be decommissioned within a year and scrapped. The Navy said decommissioning will cost about $30 million.
David Later reported September 2020 that in planning the repairs to be amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, "U.S. Navy leaders face a series of choices and all of them are bad.... The Navy can either: fix Bonhomme Richard at enormous cost; replace her with a new LHA, a class of ship that Congressional Research Service says is running about $3.8 billion per hull, further constricting an already squeezed shipbuilding budget; try to pull an old big-deck out of mothballs and overhaul it for a few years of service; or it can cut bait entirely and lose the capacity all together.... the Navy’s working assumption is that the repairs could cost as much as, or even exceed, $1.5 billion, though that number is subject to change based on a full assessment of the hull that has not been completed yet. If the repair cost $1.5 billion or thereabouts, it would roughly equal the original cost of construction. But that would still be significantly less than the cost of building a new big deck to replace the Bonhomme Richard."
On 17 July 2020, U.S. chief of naval operations Adm. Mike Gilday toured the fire-damaged amphib USS Bonhomme Richard. The damage aboard Bonhomme Richard is "extensive," Gilday said. Based on a walkthrough from four decks below the flight deck and up into the superstructure, he said that the damage to electrical, mechanical and structural elements of the ship will have to be fully evaluated by a team of Navy and industry experts. That assessment has already begun, and it will inform decisionmaking on whether it makes sense to repair the vessel. "I am 100 percent confident that our defense industry can put this ship back to sea, but having said that, the question is, should we make that investment in a 22-year-old ship - and I'm not going to make any predictions until we look at all the facts," Gilday said. Fire broke out on the USS Bonhomme Richard around 8:30 on Sunday morning 12 July 2020. Smoke continued to rise from the vessel nearly 11 hours later. The US Navy said in a statement, "17 sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital." It also said the remainder of the crew is accounted for. The USS Bonhomme Richard was stationed at a US naval base in Sasebo, western Japan, from 2012 to 2018.
She was docked at Naval Base San Diego in a maintenance availability, one which involved retrofitting the ship to carry the short take-off/vertical landing F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. At approximately 4:00 p.m. the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Russell (DDG 59) shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The local fire department chief said in an interview with CNN that the ship could burn for days, down to the waterline, though US Navy sources doubted this.
The Navy on Monday 13 July 2020 raised the injury toll to 57 people. No ammunition or weapons were onboard, and the ship's fuel was not near the source of the fire. Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck said fire temperatures had reached up to 1,000 degrees, causing one mast of the ship to collapse and threatening the central control island where the captain operates the vessel. This is one of the US Navy's worst shipyard fires in recent memory. The fire is said to have originated in a lower cargo area, where cardboard boxes, rags, and other ship supplies were being stored.
The fire suppression system had been turned off as part of the ongoing maintenance. The system uses halon, a liquefied gas that restricts chances of fire by cutting off oxygen. It was common deactivate the halon system while the ship was being worked on. But the navy had not compensated enough for the deactivation of the suppression system, and had poor or no fire boundaries in place.
Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said 14 July 2020 the ship, which has been listing because of the water being poured on it to douse the flames, was stable and the structure was safe. The U.S. Navy and civilian firefighters combatting the blaze had isolated the fires to two separate locations. Sobeck said that two fires remained on the ship, one forward and the other aft. “We have investigated the four main engineering spaces and found no major damage,” Sobeck said. “There is no threat to the fuel tanks, which [are] well-below any active fires or heat sources. The ship is stable and the structure is safe.” On 16 July 2020 at 2300 PDT/0200 EDTthe Navy announced that : "Out of an abundance of caution the pier and ship were cleared of personnel due to an initial shift in the ship’s list. Personnel are now pier side. We will continue to monitor as the ship settles." Initially Bonhomme Richard had been listing to starboard, but then it the ship began to list to port, toward the pier. “Our fire teams are investigating every space to verify the absence of fire. Until every space is checked and there are no active fires we will not be able to commence any official investigations,” Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 said. “We did not know the origin of the fire. We do not know the extent of the damage. It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be. We cannot make any conclusions until the investigation is complete.”
USS BONHOMME RICHARD [LHD-6] is an Amphibious Assault Ship. The primary mission of the ship is to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft, amphibious vehicle or any combination of these means.
BONHOMME RICHARD was uniquely designed to support assault from the sea against defended positions ashore. She is able to sail in harm's way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition.
The United States maintains the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world. The Wasp-class are the largest amphibious ships in the world.
USS Bonhomme Richard conducted her maiden deployment from January of 2000 to June of 2000. While on the deployment, she participated in Operations Southern Watch, Eager Mace, Eastern Maverick, and Sea Soldier.
The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) completed its deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, 10 April 2015. During the three-month underway, the Bonhomme Richard ARG, which comprises forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) and amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), along with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), 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 (ROK) navy and marine corps during the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP).
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived in Pearl Harbor, 27 April 2018, marking the ship's first port visit since it entered U.S. 3rd Fleet. Bonhomme Richard is stopping at Pearl Harbor as part of the ship's transit from Sasebo, Japan, to San Diego, where the ship will be permanently homeported. The ship is transiting to San Diego where it conducted operations in 3rd Fleet prior to entering an extended maintenance availability, including upgrades and modernization to operate the F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft.
Shield and Crest
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 which was placed under the command of John Paul Jones. Jones wanted a name with meaning 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 this 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 achievment 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 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 the 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 ships 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.
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