SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived in San Diego, concluding the ship's homeport change, May 8.
Since departing San Diego in April 2012 for Sasebo, Japan, to replace USS Essex (LHD 2) as the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, Bonhomme Richard had served as the 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.
"The Sailors of Bonhomme Richard did a phenomenal job while living and working in 7th Fleet," said Bonhomme Richard's Command Master Chief Theron Fischer. "They've shown that Sailors and Marines can truly make a positive impact on their community as U.S. ambassadors. As we acclimate to our new homeport, I believe this crew is ready for any challenges that our new assignment has in store for us."
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Magarrett Barnes, security department leading petty officer, said he has been looking forward to Bonhomme Richard's arrival in San Diego, and expressed his excitement to be living in California.
"I love Japan, and I enjoyed my time there, but I am happy to return to California and San Diego," said Barnes. "San Diego has everything you could ask for. It has any type of food you want, the night life is great, the beaches are awesome, and when you add all that up with perfect weather year-round, it makes it a pretty nice place to live."
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 U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility before entering an extended maintenance availability, including upgrades and modernization to operate the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.