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USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31)

- later CVA 31 -
- decommissioned -

USS BON HOMME RICHARD was the 14th ESSEX - class aircraft carrier and the second ship in the Navy to bear the name. Reclassified as attack aircraft carrier CVA 31 on October 1, 1952, the carrier was decommissioned on July 2, 1971. The BON HOMME RICHARD became part of the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington, and was stricken from the Navy List in 1989. She was sold for scrapping on February 4, 1992.

General Characteristics:Awarded: 1942
Keel laid: February 1, 1943
Launched: April 29, 1944
Commissioned: November 26, 1944
Decommissioned: January 9, 1947
Recommissioned: January 15, 1951
Decommissioned: July 2, 1971
Builder: New York Naval Shipyard, Camden, NY
Propulsion system: 8 boilers
Propellers: four
Aircraft elevators: three
Arresting gear cables: four
Catapults: two
Length: 888.5 feet (270.8 meters)
Flight Deck Width: 191.9 feet (58.5 meters)
Beam: 101 feet (30.8 meters)
Draft: 30.8 feet (9.4 meters)
Displacement: approx. 44,700 tons full load
Speed: 33 knots
Planes: 80-100 planes
Crew: approx. 3448   as CVA: 354 officers and 3170 enlisted
Armament: see down below

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS BON HOMME RICHARD. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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About the different armament:

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Accidents aboard USS BON HOMME RICHARD:

May 15, 1957off San Diego, Calif.A A3D Skywarrior aircraft crashes while landing on the USS BON HOMME RICHARD, killing three.
June 12, 1964160 miles southwest of Sasebo, JapanUSS BON HOMME RICHARD suffers a major propulsion system casualty while participating in an exercise. The casualty results in the loss of 50 percent propulsion capability.
February 10, 1970Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Calif.A Bullpup missile aboard USS BON HOMME RICHARD cracks and leaks toxic gases and liquids when its pneumatic hoist fails and drops it on the deck of the weapons magazine. A Navy spokesman says the missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead but was not believed to be armed at the time. 200 crewmembers are evacuated from the surrounding areas and the rest of the 3500-person crew stands by to take the ship to sea if necessary as a precaution. The broken rocket motor is safely lifted out of the ship and transfered to the dock.
February 10, 1970Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Calif.Coincidently, minutes before the Bullpup missile drops in a starboard magazine, an electrical fire breaks out in a port side magzine aboard the USS BON HOMME RICHARD while the ship is docked at Naval Air Station North Island.

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USS BON HOMME RICHARD was launched 29 April 1944 by New York Navy Yard sponsored by Mrs. J. S. McCain, wife of Vice Adm. McCain, and commissioned 26 November 1944, Captain A. O. Rule, Jr., in command.

BON HOMME RICHARD departed Norfolk 19 March 1945 to join the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor 5 April 1945. Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined TF 38 off Okinawa 6 June 1945. During 7-10 June she joined in the attacks on Okino Daito Jima and then served with the 3rd Fleet during the air strikes against Japan (2 July-15 August). She remained off Japan until 16 September and after a short training period off Guam, proceeded to San Francisco, arriving 20 October.

She left San Francisco 29 October 1945 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. BON HOMME RICHARD then reported to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for inactivation and was placed out of commission in reserve 9 January 1947.

BON HOMME RICHARD was recommissioned 15 January 1951 and on 10 May departed San Diego for the Far East. She joined TF 77 off Korea on 29 May and launched her first air strikes 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.

She joined TF 77 once more on 23 June 1952 and took part in the heavy strikes against the North Korean power complex (24-25 June) and the amphibious feint at Kojo (12-16 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, 1 October 1952.

BON HOMME RICHARD went out of commission 15 May 1953 preparatory to modernization. When recommissioned 6 September 1955, she had an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed bow, enlarged elevators, and steam catapults. She completed her conversion period 31 October 1955 and commenced sea trials in the Alameda-San Diego area.

Recommissioned in September 1955, she began the first of a long series of Seventh Fleet deployments. The initial west coast deployment of a squadron equipped with the new Sidewinder missile was with Fighter Squadron 211, equipped with FJ-3s, aboard BON HOMME RICHARD in September 1956.

On 6 June 1957, two F8U Crusaders and two A3D Skywarriors flew non-stop from BON HOMME RICHARD off the California coast to USS SARATOGA (CVA 60) of the east coast of Florida. This, the first carrier-to-carrier transcontinental flight, was completed by the F8Us in 3 hours 28 minutes and by the A3Ds in 4 hours 1 minute.

BON HOMME RICHARD made additional western Pacific cruises in 1957, 1958-1959, 1959-60, 1961, 1962-63, and 1964, with the last including a voyage into the Indian Ocean. The ship entered the Indian Ocean on 4 April 1964 with the "Concord Squadron," composed of BON HOMME RICHARD, USS SHELTON (DD 790), USS BLUE (DD 744), USS FRANK KNOX (DD 742), and the fleet oiler USS HASSAYAMPA (AO 145). The cruise lasted six weeks and went near Iran, the Arabian peninsula, down the African coast and into many ports along the way for goodwill visits.

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.

BON HOMME RICHARD was ordered inactivated at the end of her 1970 deployment. She decommissioned in July 1971, becoming part of the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington. The ship was stricken from the Navy List in 1989 and was sold for scrapping 4 February 1992.

BON HOMME RICHARD received one battle star for her World War II service and five battle stars for participation in the Korean conflict.

Click here to get a view of the deployments of USS BON HOMME RICHARD

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Far East Cruise 1957

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Dan Carver, son of Captain Lamar P. Carver (BONHOMME RICHARD's Commanding Officer from September 6, 1955 - November 15, 1956), contributed some photos from his father's collection. They were taken by the ship's photographers mates during the years 1955 and 1956. Click here to view the photos.

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