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USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31)

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USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31)

For other ships of the same name, see USS Bonhomme Richard.

USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) underway, ca. 1956.
Career (United States)
Name: USS Bon Homme Richard
Namesake: USS Bonhomme Richard
Builder: New York Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 1 February 1943
Launched: 29 April 1944
Commissioned: 26 November 1944
Decommissioned: 9 January 1947
Recommissioned: 15 January 1951
Decommissioned: 15 May 1953
Recommissioned: 6 September 1955
Decommissioned: 2 July 1971
Struck: 20 September 1989
Nickname: "Bonnie Dick"
Honors and
One battle star for World War II
Five battle stars for the Korean War
Fate: Scrapped in 1992
General characteristics
Class & type:
Displacement: As built:
27,100 tons standard
36,380 tons full load
Length: As built:
820 feet (250 m) waterline
872 feet (266 m) overall
Beam: As built:
93 feet (28 m) waterline
147 feet 6 inches (45 m) overall
Draft: As built:
28 feet 5 inches (8.66 m) light
34 feet 2 inches (10.41 m) full load
Propulsion: As designed:
8 × boilers 565 psi (3,900 kPa) 850 °F (450 °C)
4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines
4 × shafts
150,000 shp (110 MW)
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Range: 20,000 nautical miles (37,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: As built:
2,600 officers and enlisted
Armament: As built:
4 × twin 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
4 × single 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
8 × quadruple 40 mm 56 caliber guns
46 × single 20 mm 78 caliber guns
Armor: As built:
2.5 to 4 inch (60 to 100 mm) belt
1.5 inch (40 mm) hangar and protectice decks
4 inch (100 mm) bulkheads
1.5 inch (40 mm) STS top and sides of pilot house
2.5 inch (60 mm) top of steering gear
Aircraft carried: As built:
90–100 aircraft
1 × deck-edge elevator
2 × centerline elevators

USS Bon Homme Richard (CV/CVA-31) was one of 24 completed during or shortly after World War II for the United States Navy. She was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, being named for John Paul Jones's famous Revolutionary War frigate by the same name. Jones had named that ship, usually rendered in more correct French as Bonhomme Richard, to honor Benjamin Franklin, the American Commissioner at Paris, whose Poor Richard's Almanac had been published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.

Bon Homme Richard was commissioned in November 1944, and served in the final campaigns of the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning one battle star. Decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, she was modernized and recommissioned in the early 1950s as an attack carrier (CVA). In her second career she operated exclusively in the Pacific, playing a prominent role in the Korean War, for which she earned five battle stars, and the Vietnam War. She was decommissioned in 1971, and scrapped in 1992.

Construction and Commissioning

Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) was laid down on 1 February 1943 at the New York Navy Yard, being the first Essex-class carrier to be built at the New York Navy Yard.[1][nb 1] She was launched 29 April 1944 by Mrs. John S. McCain, wife of Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Sr.. The ship was commissioned 26 November 1944, with Captain A. O. Rule, Jr. as her first commander.[3]

Service history

Bon Homme Richard went to the Pacific in March 1945, and in June joined the fast carriers in the combat zone and took part in the final raids on Japan. With the end of hostilities in mid-August, Bon Homme Richard continued operations off Japan until September, when she returned to the United States. Operation Magic Carpet personnel transportation service occupied her into 1946. She was thereafter generally inactive until decommissioning at Seattle, Washington on 9 January 1947.

The outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 called Bon Homme Richard back to active duty. She recommissioned on 15 January 1951 and deployed to the Western Pacific that May, launching her planes against enemy targets in Korea until the deployment ended late in the year. A second combat tour followed in May–December 1952, highlighted by large-scale joint service air attacks on the Sui-ho Dam and Pyongyang, during which she was redesignated CVA-31. The carrier decommissioned on 15 May 1953 to undergo a major conversion to equip her to operate high-performance jet aircraft.

Bon Homme Richard emerged from the shipyard with an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed "hurricane" bow, steam catapults, a new island, wider beam and many other improvements. Recommissioned on 6 September 1955, she began the first of a long series of 7th Fleet deployments. Additional Western Pacific cruises followed in 1957, 1958–1959, 1959–1960, 1961, 1962–1963, and 1964, with the last including a voyage into the Indian Ocean. The Bon Homme Richard also had been in the Indian Ocean for a goodwill trip to Bombay, India at the direction of President Eisenhower during the 1959-1960 Pacific cruise. Admiral George Stephen Morrison, father of The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, flew his flag in Bon Homme Richard during the Tonkin Gulf Incident.

The Vietnam War escalation in early 1965 brought Bon Homme Richard into a third armed conflict, and she deployed on five Southeast Asia combat tours over the next six years. Her aircraft battled North Vietnamese MiGs on many occasions, downing several, as well as striking transportation and infrastructure targets. Occasional excursions to other Asian areas provided some variety to her operations. In 1970 at the request of the South Vietnamese government, the Bon Homme Richard docked at Da Nang harbor to show the alleged pacification of the region. This was the first US capital ship to do so. Bon Homme Richard was ordered inactivated at the end of her 1970 deployment. She was decommissioned on 2 July 1971, becoming part of the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington. Following 20 years in mothballs, she was sold for scrap in March 1992. She was scrapped at Southwest Marine's yard in San Pedro, California.


Bon Homme Richard received one battle star for her World War II service, and five for the Korean War.


  • Gardiner, Robert and Roger Chesneau. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1922–46. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1980. ISBN 0 85177 146 7.
  • This article incorporates text from the here.

External links

  • USS BonHomme Richard
  • USS Bon Homme Richard CV/CVA 31

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