Modernization and mission improvements will extend USS Bonhomme Richard’s service life

By Edward Lundquist at January 19, 2011 05:10
Filed Under: Navy insights

Modernization and mission improvements will extend USS Bonhomme Richard’s service life

By Edward Lundquist

Photos by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) is currently at NASSCO Shipyard in San Diego for  a nine-month, $101 million dry-dock planned maintenance availability period.  The repairs to the 844-foot amphibious assault ship will be completed by July 2011.

The 40,358-ton Bonhomme Richard is a Wasp-class LHD, built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., and currently assigned to the Naval Surface Force in the Pacific Fleet. 

The first seven ships of this class have two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 horsepower.  The newest member of the class, USS Makin Island (LHD 8), has two gas turbines and two shafts delivering 70,000 total shaft horsepower, as well as two 5,000 horsepower auxiliary propulsion motors.  Wasp-class LHDs can attain speeds of greater than 20-knots.


Bonhomme Richard has a crew of 66 officers and 1,004 enlisted, and can carry a Marine Detachment of more than 1,600 Marines. 

The ship is armed with a pair of Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers; two NATO Sea Sparrow launchers; and two 20mm Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) mounts.  She also carries.50 cal. machine guns and 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns for force protection.

As big as a WWII aircraft carrier, Bonhomme Richard can carry 12 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters; 4 CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; 6 AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft; 3 UH-1N Huey helicopters; 4 AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters, and is planned to operate the MV-22 Osprey VTOL tilt-rotors.

In addition to its flight deck, the LHD also has a floodable well deck to carry and operate landing craft to include three LCACs or 2 LCUs.

Electrical and auxiliaries work includes replacement of the steam fire pumps, upgrades to the flash distilling plant, and electrical distribution system upgrades for C4I.  New night vision device-compatible lighting is being installed in the well decks for embarked Marines preparing for night operations (existing well deck lighting overwhelms the aviators' night vision goggles and restricted night flight deck operation when well deck operations were being conducted), and synthetic decking in the well deck is being installed.

The boat davits are being upgraded to support 7m and 11m RHIBS, and corrosion improvements are being instituted.


A painter climbs the scaffolding to the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is in dry dock through April for maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane/Released)

A number of interior communications improvements are being made, as well as a digital photo lab and integrated bridge system installed. The ship is receiving upgrades to its air traffic Control system and receiving a new Integrated Bridge System.

Weight and moment compensation and a Fuel Oil Compensation System will improve stability (see below).

The ship is being reconfigured to be able to operate both the MV 22 Osprey tilt-rotor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“NASSCO is the primary MSMO Contractor. Major subcontractors include BAE, CMSD, and PacShip,” says Chris Johnson, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

“These essential modernization and mission improvements will enable Bonhomme Richard to achieve a 40-year service life,” Johnson says.

Bonhomme Richard was commissioned in 1998.

What is the fuel oil compensation system?


.   During fueling operations, fuel enters the receiving tank from the fuel fill and transfer system via an inlet pipe and pushes seawater or fuel through the rest of the tanks in the group via sluice pipes. 

.   Through simple displacement, an equal amount of seawater is discharged overboard from the overflow/expansion tank. 

.   When the fuel level in one tank reaches the lower sluice pipe, the fuel flows through the sluice pipe and into the next tank group. 

.   This process continues until all the storage tanks are full and is stopped prior to fuel entering the overflow/expansion tank. 

.   The overflow/expansion tank is intended to hold only seawater, acting as a buffer between the fuel in the storage tanks and the overboard discharge.  In this way the overboard/expansion tank is used to prevent the accidental discharge of fuel overboard due to overfilling of the tank group or due to the thermal expansion of the fuel when ambient temperatures increase. 

.   Fuel is transferred via transfer pumps to uncompensated inner bottom tanks prior to use by ship's propulsion and electrical generating plants. 

.   Fuel is never taken directly from the compensated tanks for use in propulsion and electrical generating machinery.

.   This is an effective measure to improve stability with minimal environmental and operational impact. 

 View a time lapse video of the USS Bonhomme Richard entering NASSCO's dry dock here:



Hull preservation and upgrades are in progress aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), in dry dock for maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photos by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane/Released)

Comments (1) -

Nice write-up Edward!  If anyone wants to follow the dry-dock proccess they can check out more photos here:!/album.php?aid=305400&id=66235165521

MCC Joe Kane
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

Joe Kane |     1/19/2011 10:17:42 AM #

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