Alternatively: Bonhomme Richard

American naval ship during the Revolutionary War. The Bon Homme Richard was a rebuilt French merchant ship. It was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.

In her most famous battle, in 1779, the Bon Homme Richard was commanded by Captain John Paul Jones. In an encounter with the English frigate Serapis the Bon Homme Richard was badly damaged. The British Captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender and Jones replied with his famous line, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight."

The Americans eventually won the battle and boarded the Serapis. Where they sat and watched their own ship sink. Said Jones, "Even though she sunk she was victorious..."

The U.S. Navy later christened an aircraft carrier with the same name. It was commissioned in 1944 and finally taken out of service in 1992.

The name Bonhomme Richard has referred to several warships of the United States Navy throughout history. The first of these was a 900-ton 40-gun frigate commanded by John Paul Jones, which defeated the British heavy frigate (50 guns) HMS Serapis. It was in this battle that Jones uttered the famous words, "I have not yet begun to fight!".

The second vessel named Bonhomme Richard was a 38,400-ton Essex-class assault carrier, CVA-31. It was commissioned in 1944 and served in several battles during World War II and the Korean War, for which the ship was awarded six battle stars. Bonhomme Richard was decommissioned in 1971 and sold for scrap in 1989.

The third vessel to bear the name is LHD-6, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Like other Wasp-class vessels, it is a multi-role ship resembling a small aircraft carrier (*). It was commissioned July 15, 1998 and is still in active service. As of March 2003, the Bonhomme Richard is currently deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, carrying AV-8B Harrier attack planes.

(*) - 844 feet long, 40,500 tons standard load. While smaller than the modern Nimitz and Kitty Hawk-class carriers, the LHD-6 Bonhomme Richard is significantly larger than its aircraft carrier predecessor. Small is relative.

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