USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31)

USS Bon Homme Richard (CV/A-31), the second United States Navy ship of that name, was named in honor of John Paul Jones' famous frigate, usually rendered in more correct French as Bonhomme Richard, to honor Benjamin Franklin, the American Commissioner at Paris whose almanac, Poor Richard's Almanac had been published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard. As her sister Essex-class ship the Franklin was also named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, he was therefore the only person ever to have two commissioned US Navy warships named in his honor at the same time.


Bon Homme Richard was a 27,100-ton built at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York. Commissioned in November 1944, she went to the Pacific in March 1945 and in June joined the fast carriers in the combat zone and took part in the final raids on Japan. With the end of hostilities in mid-August, Bon Homme Richard continued operations off Japan until September, when she returned to the United States. Operation Magic Carpet personnel transportation service occupied her into 1946. She was thereafter generally inactive until decommissioning at Seattle, Washington, in January 1947.

The outbreak of the Korean War in late June 1950 called Bon Homme Richard back to active duty. She recommissioned in January 1951 and deployed to the Western Pacific that May, launching her planes against enemy targets in Korea until the deployment ended late in the year. A second combat tour followed in May-December 1952, highlighted by large-scale joint service air attacks on the Sui-ho Dam and Pyongyang, during which she was redesignated CVA-31. The carrier decommissioned in May 1953 to undergo a major conversion to equip her to operate high-performance jet aircraft.

Bon Homme Richard emerged from the shipyard with an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed "hurricane" bow, steam catapults, a new island, wider beam and many other improvements. Recommissioned in September 1955, she began the first of a long series of Seventh Fleet deployments. Additional Western Pacific cruises followed in 1957, 1958-1959, 1959-1960, 1961, 1962-1963, and 1964, with the last including a voyage into the Indian Ocean. Admiral George Stephen Morrison, father of The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, commanded the ship (and local fleet) during the Tonkin Gulf Incident.

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 was decommissioned in July 1971, becoming part of the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington. Following two decades in mothballs, she was sold for scrap in March 1992. She was scrapped at Southwest Marine's yard in San Pedro, California.

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