The Wasp-class surface warships numbering eight-strong is operated by the United States Navy (USN) in the amphibious assault support role. This entails the launching of men-and-machine from offshore to bring the fight to the enemy onshore and beyond. While USS Wasp (LHD-1) is the lead ship of the class, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) makes up one of its number. The warship was ordered on December 11th, 1992 and constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding for the USN. Her keel was laid down on April 18th, 1995 and the ship was launched to sea for trials on March 14th, 1997. Commissioned on August 15th, 1998, the vessel continues in service as of this writing (2020) and is based out of Naval Base San Diego on the American West Coast.
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) fights showcases the motto of "I have not yet begun to fight!" and is also known by the identifiers of "BHR" and "Bonnie Dick".
As competed, and in keeping with the Wasp-class standard, USS Bonhomme Richard has a displacement rating near 41,000 tons under full load. She measures 844 feet long with a beam of 105 feet and a draught down to 27 feet. Installed power includes a pair of boiler units feeding 2 x Geared steam turbines developing 70,000 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern. This propels the vessel to speeds of 22 knots out to a range of 9,500 nautical miles.
Onboard is a crew of 1,108 operating personnel and this goes on to include a full contingent of nearly 1,900 combat personnel including Marines. The ship can be outfitted to carry vehicles and landing craft to help bring the fight to the enemy in short order. For air support, the flight deck can launch and retrieve multiple aircraft of varying types. This includes "Harrier" strike fighters, F-35 "Lightning II" stealth-centric strike fighters, and Bell Super Cobra / Viper attack helicopters. Beyond this, the vessel can also supply supporting systems including the CV-22 "Osprey" tiltrotor transport, "Huey" / "Venom" utility helicopters, and Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. All are Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems as the Bonhomme Richard is not a true aircraft carrier supporting fixed-wing combat warplane types.
The vessel also carries into battle up to 3 x Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), 2 x Landing Craft Utility (LCU), and 12 x Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) ship-to-shore vehicles - primarily responsible for bringing men and machine to the beach.
This inherent versatility is at the heart of the USN's LHD fleet.
The warship's sensor and processing suite encompasses the AN/SPS-49 2D Air-Search radar, the AN/SPS-48 3D Air-Search radar, and the AN/SPS-67 Surface-Search radar. Beyond this is the Mk.23 Target Acquisition System (TAS), the AN/URN-25 TACAN series, and the AN/UPX-24 IFF system.
Armament is for point-defense purposes and involves 2 x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers with 2 x RIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launchers. Short-ranged defense is provided for through 2 x 20mm Phalanx digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs), 3 x 25mm Mk 38 chain guns, and up to 4 x 12.7mm Browning air-cooled Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) - the latter as a last line-of-defense.
The warship's provide is dominated by its bow-to-stern flight deck featuring multiple helicopter landing pads. Hangar elevators provide access to the supporting decks below. The island superstructure is offset to starboard, leaving port side completely unobstructed for inbound / outbound aircraft. Communications and sensor equipment are all located near or on the island superstructure as is air traffic control. Various sections of the hull are cut away along the sides of the ship to facilitate the launching and retrieval of landing craft.