USS Bonhomme Richard
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Wasp Class Assault Carrier
LHD-6

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Photographed  by Rob Mackie at
Oakland California
March 1999

USS Bonhomme Richard
LHD-6
Vital Statistics
Class: Wasp
Type: Large deck amphibious assault ship
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Pascagoula, Mississippi
Commissioned: August 1998
Length: 844' Beam: 106' Draft: 36 feet
Displacement: 40,500 tons
Power: Two steam propulsion plants,  70,000 hp

Well deck: 13,600 sq ft opening to sea via stern gate
Air Complement: various combinations of helicopters and Harriers

Armament: NATO Sea Sparrow, two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Systems, two Phalanx Close-In-Weapon-System (CIWS), six missile decoy launchers

Miscellaneous armament include four 50 caliber machine guns and three 25mm machine guns

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USS Bonhomme Richard LHD-6
Newest carrier/assault ship in US Navy

Wasp class assault carriers are most impressive, and the USS Bonhomme Richard LHD-6, commissioned last August, is the newest of the lot. Approximately the size of a WWII Essex class carrier, she carries almost 2,000 marines in addition to a US Navy crew of 1,500. Externally Wasp class ships differ from the predecessor Tarawa class in lacking 5" guns, and accordingly the flight deck is somewhat larger. The guns were removed because Wasp class utilize LCACs ("Landing Craft Air Cushion"), which enable them to land marines and armour from beyond the horizon. To disembark the LCAC, the stern gate folds down and the well deck is flooded.

These ships are most interesting below decks, and I was fortunate in being to photograph Bonhomme Richard during the March '99 Urban Warrior exercises held on San Francisco Bay. Accordingly, she was crammed with amphibious armoured vehicles of all types and her flight deck was crowded with helicopters. What a treat!

There is no model of a Wasp class carrier currently available, but I am told that a new producer is about to release a 1/700 scale resin kit shortly. This should make for a most interesting - and big - modeling project, with many detailing possibilities (Harriers, helicopters, disembarking a LCAC etc). Stay tuned

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Stern well-deck gate

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Note the many interesting details in this photo

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Underway refueling boom
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Armoured vehicles stowed below decks
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RAM forward, Sea Sparrow launcher aft
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RAM ("Rolling Airframe Missile") for close-in air defense
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Sea Cobra
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Sea Stallion
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A little contrast to break up
all that grey
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The elevator folds upward for transiting Panama Canal
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That's FDR's yacht "Potomac"
in foreground