USS Bon Homme Richard (CV/CVA-31) was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft
carriers completed during or shortly after
World War II
World War II for the United
States Navy. She was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, the
first one 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
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
recommissioned in 1951 for the Korean War. 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 modernized and recommissioned in 1955. She was
decommissioned in 1971, and scrapped in 1992.
1 Construction and commissioning
2 Service history
2.1 World War II
2.2 Korean War
2.3 Modernization and Cold War
2.4 Vietnam War
5 External links
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.[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
World War II
USS Bon Homme Richard receiving fuel from tanker CTF 77
Bon Homme Richard departed
Norfolk, Virginia on 19 March 1945 to join
the Pacific Fleet and arrived at
Pearl Harbor on 5 April 1945.
Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined
TF 38 off Okinawa on 6 June 1945 with Carrier Air Group 91 (CVG-91)
aboard. During 7–10 June she joined in the attacks on Okidaitōjima
and then served with the 3rd Fleet during the air strikes against
Japan from 2 July to 15 August. She remained off
Japan until 16
September 1945 and after a short training period off Guam, proceeded
to San Francisco, arriving 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. She
was thereafter generally inactive until decommissioning on 9 January
1947. She was mothballed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton,
Bon Homme Richard off Korea, 1951.
The outbreak of the
Korean War on 25 June 1950 called Bon Homme
Richard back to active duty. She recommissioned on 15 January 1951 in
an unmodernised state and joined TF 77 off Korea on 29 May and
launched the first air strikes of CVG-102 on 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, this time with CVG-7.She joined TF 77 once more on 23
June and took part in the heavy strikes against the Sui-ho Dam on
24–25 June and the amphibious feint at Kojo from 12 to 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 on 1
Modernization and Cold War
Bon Homme Richard then went out of commission on 15 May 1953
preparatory to modernization at the
San Francisco Naval Shipyard. She
was one of three Essex-class carriers to receive the SCB-27C and
SCB-125 modernizations on one refit. 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. She completed her conversion period 31 October
1955 and commenced sea trials in the Alameda-San Diego area. She was
recommissioned on 6 September 1955 and began the first of a long
series of 7th Fleet deployments on 16 August 1956 with CVG-21
embarked. CVG-5 reported aboard for the 1957 deployment, before CVG-19
reported aboard for the next six deployments in 1958–1959,
1959–1960, 1961, 1962–1963, 1964, and 1965-66. The 1964 cruise
included a voyage into the Indian Ocean. 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 on Bon Homme Richard. Popular myth has it that
he and the Bon Homme Richard had some involvement in the Tonkin Gulf
Incident. This however is false as the aircraft carrier involved in
the incident was the Ticonderoga. 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. Carrier Air Wing 21 (CVW-21) joined the
Bonnie Dick for the 1967 deployment to Vietnam. CVW-5 was aboard again
for the last three deployments in 1968, 1969, and 1970. 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. He was the keynote speaker at the
Decommissioning Ceremony on 2 July 1971 which was one day before his
Jim Morrison died in Paris, France.
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 and the Vietnam War. The Bon
Homme Richard received three Navy Unit Citations (NUC): One NUC for
actions during the Korean War; one NUC for actions during the Vietnam
War in 1967 and a third NUC for actions during the
Vietnam War in
1968. In 1972, however, the 1967 NUC was replaced with a presidential
unit citation (PUC) from president Richard Nixon. Therefore, the ship
received a total of two NUC's and one PUC.
^ The second Essex-class carrier, CV-10, was laid down as Bon Homme
Richard in December 1941, but was renamed Yorktown in September 1942,
following the loss of the earlier Yorktown (CV-5) in the Battle
of Midway and prior to CV-10's launch in January 1943.
^ a b Gardiner and Chesneau 1980, p. 104.
^ "Yorktown (CV-10) iv". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
Washington DC: Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
^ "Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) ii". Dictionary of American Naval
Fighting Ships. Washington DC: Naval Historical Center. 17 December
2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
p.48, accessed 26/02/2016
^ Decommissioning Program lists Rear
Admiral Morrison as Keynote
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 public domain Dictionary of
American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
Anon. Second Hitch: U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard CV 31. Seattle: Naval
Publishing, c. 1952. Covers the carrier's
Korean War Service.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31).
USS BonHomme Richard
USS Bon Homme Richard CV/CVA 31
Essex-class aircraft carriers
Bon Homme Richard
Preceded by: USS Wasp
Followed by: Independence class
List of aircraft carriers of the United