USS BON HOMME RICHARD CV 31
The second USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) was launched April 29, 1944 by New York Navy Yard sponsored by Mrs. J. S. McCain, wife of Vice Adm. McCain, and commissioned November 26, 1944, Captain A. O. Rule, Jr., in command.
Bon Homme Richard departed Norfolk March 19, 1945 to join the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor April 5, 1945. Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined TF 38 off Okinawa June 6, 1945. During June 7-10th she joined in the attacks on Okino Daito Jima and then served with the 3rd Fleet during the air strikes against Japan (July 2- August 15). She remained off Japan until September 16 and after a short training period off Guam, proceeded to San Francisco, arriving October 20.
CV 31 left San Francisco October 29, 1945 and steamed to Pearl Harbor to undergo conversion for troop transport duty. From November 8, 1945 to January 16, 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 January 9, 1947.
USS Bon Homme Richard was recommissioned January 15, 1951 and on May 10th departed San Diego for the Far East. She joined TF 77 off Korea on May 29 and launched her first air strikes May 31. Bon Homme Richard continued operations with TF 77 until November 20, 1951. The carrier reached San Diego in mid-December and on May 20, 1952 was off again to the Far East.
CV 31 joined TF 77 once more on June 23, 1952 and took part in the heavy strikes against the North Korean power complex (June 24-25) and the amphibious feint at Kojo (October 12-16). She continued operations against North Korean targets until December 18, 1952 and then steamed to San Francisco where she arrived January 8, 1953. Her classification was changed from CV 31 to CVA 31, October 1, 1952.
USS Bon Homme Richard went out of commission May 15, 1953 preparatory to modernization. When recommissioned, for the third time, September 6, 1955, she had an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed bow, enlarged elevators, and steam catapults. CVA 31 completed conversion period October 31, 1955 and commenced sea trials in the Alameda-San Diego area.
Recommissioned in September 1955, Bon Homme Richard 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 USS Bon Homme Richard in September 1956.
May 15, 1957 A A3D Skywarrior aircraft crashes, off the coast of San Diego, while landing on the CVA 31, killing three.
June 6, 1957 Two F8U Crusaders and two A3D Skywarriors flew non-stop from Bon Homme Richard off the California coast to USS Saratoga 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.
USS 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 April 4, 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.
June 12, 1964 USS Bon Homme Richard suffers a major propulsion system casualty while participating in an exercise, 160 miles southwest of Sasebo, Japan. The casualty results in the loss of 50 percent propulsion capability.
The Vietnam war escalation in early 1965 brought Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) 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.
November 10, 1970 A Bullpup missile aboard Bon Homme Richard cracks and leaks toxic gases and liquids when its pneumatic hoist fails and drops it on the deck of the weapons magazine. A Navy spokesman says the missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead but was not believed to be armed at the time. 200 crewmembers are evacuated from the surrounding areas and the rest of the 3500-person crew stands by to take the ship to sea if necessary as a precaution. The broken rocket motor is safely lifted out of the ship and transfered to the dock. Coincidently, minutes before the Bullpup missile drops in a starboard magazine, an electrical fire breaks out in a port side magazine aboard the CVA 31 while the ship is docked at Naval Air Station North Island.
USS Bon Homme Richard was ordered inactivated at the end of her 1970 deployment. She decommissioned on July 2, 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 February 4, 1992.