U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Aircraft Carriers - USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31)

displacement: 27,100 tons
length: 872 feet
beam: 147 feet
draft: 28 feet 7 inches
speed: 33 knots
complement: 3,448 crew
armament: 12 5-inch guns
class: Essex

From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995,
both published by the Naval Historical Center
Full-screen images are linked from the images in the text below.

Bon Homme Richard being launched

The second Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) 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 returns from Korea

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 in Tonkin Gulf

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.

Last Update: 15 June 2009