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USS Bonhomme Richard Deploys In Support of Global War On Terrorism

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS041215-02
Release Date: 12/15/2004 11:00:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Ryan Valverde, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) deployed Dec. 6 with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 for a six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.

The Revolutionary Gator has made three deployments during the past three years in support of the global war on terrorism, conducting combat operations in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. On this deployment, Bonhomme Richard is serving as the flagship for ESG 5.

"It just proves the CNO's (Chief of Naval Operations) concept that if we keep ships at a high state of readiness, then they will continue to be ready to operate at a high efficiency level," said Capt. J. Scott Jones, commanding officer of the San Diego-based ship. "You have to manage the maintenance time in port and allow the crew quality time to spend with their families."

Jones said planning ahead is key. "We are constantly looking downstream and have a good command action plan. We are already planning to be surge ready for deployment as soon as we come back. We will show our proficiency and extend our certifications while on deployment," he said.

The goal of this deployment is to accomplish every mission the ship is assigned, and to continue the level of readiness and efficiency the ship and crew has demonstrated in the past, said Jones.

Bonhomme Richard is also promoting higher education by offering Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) and distance learning courses.

"It's the BHR University," Jones said, adding that an Internet Cafe with 24 new computers was opened on the ship before the deployment. Most of the computers are loaded with the latest in distance learning software and will allow crew members to participate in courses not being offered through NCPACE.

Seaman Jeremy Franklin, 21, from Dallas, who works in the café, said this is his first deployment.

"I hope to accomplish many goals during this deployment," said Franklin. "We have been working hard to get the computer room ready for the crew so they have a place to study and keep in touch with family back at home."

The deployment comes after months of rigorous ship-specific training and ESG integrated training combining Navy, Marine and Coast Guard forces.

"We have been training hard for the past year for this deployment," Franklin said. "All the stress from training has paid off. If something does come up that is challenging, I have no doubt the crew will know exactly how to overcome it."

"It is important to train and maintain a deployable ready status to give the commander in chief the option to use the Navy and Marine Corps team where they are needed," Jones said. "The training was vital and allowed us to practice the mission sets we may be faced with overseas."

Days before the deployment began, the Revolutionary Gator successfully completed a Marine on-load in port. In one day, 23 helicopters from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's (15th MEU) Air Combat Element embarked on the ship. Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1666 and LCU 1648 supported the on-load operation by embarking Marine Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVR) in the ship's well deck.

"Doing the on-load this way allowed the ship to stay in port, improving the morale of the Sailors by allowing us to spend more time with our families in the days prior to departure," Jones said. "It also saved an estimated $70,000 in fuel costs. Plus, the community of San Diego was able to see the awesome air wing of the MEU as they flew from Miramar, down the Coronado Strand, and landed on the flight deck at 32nd Street Naval Base."

Other ships that deployed with ESG 5 are USS Thach (FFG 43), USS Rushmore (LSD 47), USS Duluth (LPD 6), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Pasadena (SSN 752) and USCG Munro (WHEC 724).

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