USS Bonhomme Richard arrives at new-old homeport

Family members welcome the sailors of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as it arrives in San Diego on May 8, 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived at its new homeport in San Diego on May 8, concluding a homeport change from Sasebo, Japan.

Bonhomme Richard departed San Diego in April 2012 for Sasebo, Japan, to replace USS Essex (LHD 2) as the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship and flagship of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet’s expeditionary strike group.

During the six years serving forward deployed, the ship participated in exercises, such as the bi-annual exercise Talisman Sabre with the Royal Australian Navy, worked side-by-side with Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and participated in exchanges with regional partners, such as Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.

Bonhomme Richard demonstrated its humanitarian and disaster relief response capabilities during search and rescue efforts following the 2014 capsize of Korean ferry MV Sewol, and assisted with relief efforts following the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016.

“Bonhomme Richard was forward deployed to Japan during the past six years,” said Capt. Larry McCullen, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer. “This crew and every other crew that has served on the ship during that time can be justifiably proud of their accomplishments while executing our nation’s business in the challenging FDNF environment. The ship performed at a high level of excellence during exercises and in response to real-world events. We are honored to be part of this moment in the ship’s history and the crew is excited to have San Diego as our new homeport. We accomplished much while serving in the 7th Fleet and I am happy to report that Bonhomme Richard stands ready to complete any tasking and any mission in support of 3rd Fleet.”

In addition to completing training and exercises, the sailors and marines participated in cultural exchanges, and took part in community service projects in Japan at nearly every port the ship visited in the Pacific. The crew also helped those in need in the Sasebo community through food drives, holiday gift giving, feeding the homeless, and helping at local schools.

USS Wasp (LHD 1) recently took over duties from Bonhomme Richard in Sasebo as the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship.

While homeported in San Diego, Bonhomme Richard will stand ready to conduct operational tasking in the US 3rd Fleet area of responsibility before entering an extended maintenance availability, including upgrades and modernization to operate the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.

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