The USS Bon Homme Richard is a 27,100 ton Essex class aircraft carrier. She was built in the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, and commissioned in 1944. She was sent to the Pacific in 1945.
Action in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
That June, she joined other carriers in the combat zone and helped in the final raid in Japan. The ship stayed off the coast of Japan until that September when she came back to the United States. Personnel transportation service had occupied the ship until 1946. Then she was inactive until being decommissioned at Seattle, Washington in January of 1947.
The ship went back into active duty during the outbreak of the Korean War in late June 1950. She was then recommissioned in January 1951 and sent to the Western Pacific, sending her planes against the enemy in Korea until later that year. She went for a second tour during May through December 1952 before being redesignated a CVA 31. She was decommissioned in May 1953 to equip her to operate high performance jet aircrafts.
She came out of the ship yard with a new angled and stronger flight deck, enclosed bow, steam catapults, a new island, and a wider beam along with other improvements. She was then recommissioned in September 1955, which started of the first of seven fleet deployments. Western Pacific cruises afterwards included 1957, 1958-1959, 1959-60, 1961, 1962-63, and 1964. The last voyage was in the Indian Ocean.
With the Vietnam War in early 1965, the ship was brought out again and sent into her third conflict. Over the next six years she was deployed on five Southeast Asia tours. The ship’s aircraft battled North Vietnamese MiGs many times and also downed some of them. They also struck transportation and infrastructures that were targets. The ship had some occasional trips to other Asian areas.
After the War
The USS Bon Homme Richard was ordered inactive at the end of her deployment in 1970. In July of 1971 she was decommissioned. She became part of the fleet at Bremerton, Washington. After sitting for two decades she was then sold to be sold for scrap in March 1992, sending the ship to its final end.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, aircraft carriers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.