On June 19, 1779, BONHOMME RICHARD sailed with troop transports and
merchant vessels under convoy to Bordeaux and to cruise against the
British in the Bay of Biscay. Forced to return to port for repair, the
squadron sailed again August 14, 1779. Going northwest around the west
coast off the British Isle into the North Sea and then down the east
coast the squadron captured 16 merchant vessels.
On September 23, 1779, they encountered the Baltic Fleet, under convoy
of H.M.S. Serapis and Countess of Scarborough. That night, BONHOMME
RICHARD engaged Serapis, and a bitter engagement ensued during the next
four hours before Serapis struck her colors. It was during this epic
battle that Captain Jones issued his immortal refusal to surrender,
crying, "I have not yet begun to fight!". BONHOMME RICHARD, shattered,
on fire, and leaking badly, defied all efforts to save her and sank the
next morning. Captain Jones then sailed the captured Serapis to Holland
On April 29, 1944, at the New York Navy Yard. A second BONHOMME RICHARD
was launched then commissioned on November 26, 1944 this one being
CV-31. It departed Norfolk, Virginia on March 19, 1945, to join the
Pacific Fleet, arriving at Pearl Harbor on April 5.
USS BONHOMME RICHARD (CV 31), 1944-1952
Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined
Task Force (TF) 38 off Okinawa June 6. From June 7-10, she joined in
the attacks on Okino Daito-Jima and then served with the Third Fleet
during the air strikes against Japan from July 2 through August 15. She
remained off Japan until September 16 then proceeded to San Francisco
and arrived early October 1945. Later that month she left San Francisco
and steamed to Pearl Harbor to undergo conversion for troop transport
From November 8, 1945, to January 16, 1946, CV-31 made Trans-Pacific
voyages, returning servicemen to the United States. She then reported
to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for inactivation, and was placed out of
commission in reserve on January 9, 1947.
The ship was recommissioned January 15, 1951, and on May 10 departed
San Diego for the Far East. She joined TF 77 off Korea on may 29, and
launched her first air strikes May 31. BONHOMME RICHARD continued
operations with TF 77 until November, when she returned to San Diego.
She joined TF 77 once more on June 23, 1952, and took part in the heavy
strikes against the North Korean power complex, and the amphibious
feint at Kojo. Her classification was changed from CV 31 to CVA 31 on
October 1, and she continued operations against North Korean targets
until December, before returning to the U.S. in January 1953.
BONHOMME RICHARD went out of commission in May 1953, for modernization.
When recommissioned as CVA 31 on September 6, 1955, she had an angled
and strengthened flight deck, enclosed bow, enlarged elevators, and
USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA 31) 1952-1971
During her first post-modernization deployment, CVA 31 became, in 1957,
the first ESSEX Class carrier to operate the Douglas Skyray
fighter-bomber and Skywarrior bomber. In the mid 1960's CVA 31
completed multiple combat deployments to "Yankee Station," off the
coast of Vietnam. During the ships 1967 deployment, BONHOMME RICHARD
launched a record 73 major strikes.
She completed her last cruise in Southeast Asia in October 1970, and
returned home for decommissioning on July 2, 1971.
CV/CVA 31 received one battle star for her World War II service, five
battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for participation in the
Korean conflict, and three additional battle stars and a second Navy
Unit Commendation in Vietnam.
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 Crest: 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.
"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 H.M.S. SERAPIS. This one statement of devotion to
duty reflects the determination and spirit of the crew of LHD 6.