More than 3,000 U.S. Sailors and Marines aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) docked at Garden Island, Sydney today for a four day port visit. While in town the ship will be hosted by the crew of NUSHIP Canberra.
During their visit, the sailors and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will enjoy the sites of Sydney and take part in community relations activities, following a busy period at sea, taking part in Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.
USS Bonhomme Richard or “The Revolutionary Gator” is an Amphibious Assault Ship measuring 253.2 meters. Her primary mission is to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations with helicopters, landing craft, and amphibious vehicles.
Commander Surface Forces, Commodore Jonathan Mead said the visit is a taste of things to come.
“We are always pleased to welcome our American friends to Fleet Base East. Shortly we will be welcoming thousands of sailors from 19 nations to Sydney, as we host our International Fleet Review in October.
“The Landing Helicopter Dock Bonhomme Richard is also a similar size to the Royal Australian Navy’s Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock. The Canberra class LHDs are bigger than Australia’s last aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and when completed they will be more than 230 metres long, 27.5 metres high and weigh around 27,500 tonnes,” said Commodore Mead.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the first of our LHD’s, NUSHIP Canberra to Fleet Base East later this year, prior to her being accepted by the Commonwealth early in 2014.”
The Bonhomme Richard is part of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. 2013 marks the 70th Anniversary of the 7th Fleet – which was originally established in Brisbane in 1943.
Bonhomme Richard is French for “Good Man Richard.” The ship is named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the first U.S. Ambassador to France. She is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan.
Press Release, August 16, 2013; Image: Australian Navy