USS Bonhomme Richard
Richard 21a.jpg (26559 bytes)
Click to enlarge
Wasp Class Assault Carrier

Photo Gallery.gif (8444 bytes)

Photographed  by Rob Mackie at
Oakland California
March 1999

USS Bonhomme Richard
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

Bonhomme Richard.jpg (29336 bytes)
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

Click thumbnail to view full size picture

Richard 01.jpg (40566 bytes)

Richard 02a.jpg (63710 bytes)
Stern well-deck gate

Richard 03.jpg (40051 bytes)

Richard 04.jpg (78218 bytes)
Note the many interesting details in this photo

Richard 05.jpg (46047 bytes) Richard 05a.jpg (44703 bytes) Richard 08.jpg (38072 bytes) Richard 09.jpg (35147 bytes)
Richard 10.jpg (23217 bytes) Richard 11.jpg (30697 bytes) Richard 12.jpg (38304 bytes) Richard 12a.jpg (52733 bytes)
Underway refueling boom
Richard 13.jpg (61245 bytes)
Armoured vehicles stowed below decks
Richard 14.jpg (49249 bytes) Richard 14a.jpg (25602 bytes) Richard 18.jpg (43283 bytes)
Richard 19.jpg (36512 bytes)
RAM forward, Sea Sparrow launcher aft
Richard 20.jpg (27172 bytes)
RAM ("Rolling Airframe Missile") for close-in air defense
Richard 22.jpg (29372 bytes) Richard 23.jpg (32163 bytes)
Richard 23a.jpg (39989 bytes) Richard 24.jpg (53166 bytes) Richard 24a.jpg (34071 bytes) Richard 25.jpg (51501 bytes)
Richard 26.jpg (64332 bytes)
Sea Cobra
Richard 27.jpg (62257 bytes) Richard 28.jpg (37801 bytes) Richard 29.jpg (43338 bytes)
Richard 30.jpg (44411 bytes) Richard 31.jpg (46257 bytes)
Sea Stallion
Richard 32.jpg (41888 bytes) Richard 32a.jpg (28278 bytes)
A little contrast to break up
all that grey
Richard 34.jpg (48338 bytes) Richard 35.jpg (49377 bytes) Richard 36.jpg (45446 bytes) Richard 37.jpg (67319 bytes)
The elevator folds upward for transiting Panama Canal
Richard 38.jpg (47436 bytes) Richard 39.jpg (61523 bytes)
That's FDR's yacht "Potomac"
in foreground