The fire-ravaged USS Bonhomme Richard was decommissioned during a ceremony Wednesday held at Naval Base San Diego.
The ceremony marked 22 years into a 40-year expected service life, following a fire on the amphibious assault ship that burned for four days in San Diego last summer.
The 41,000-ton small aircraft carrier capable of carrying helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets, sustained severe damage leaving the vessel listing to the starboard side, its aluminum superstructure collapsed and melted.
The Navy said a comprehensive assessment following the fire concluded that restoring the Bonhomme Richard would cost over $3 billion and require between five and seven years to complete.
A total of 40 sailors and 23 civilian firefighters suffered various minor injuries, mostly heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, while taking part in the battle to defeat the blaze, according to Navy officials.
Bonhomme Richard was the third ship to bear the name, in honor of John Paul Jones’ famous frigate, named the French equivalent for “Good man Richard.” This was in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the U.S. Ambassador to France at the time. The name Bonhomme Richard is derived from Franklin’s pen name, according to Navy officials.
“[The original Bonhomme Richard] Sailors gave their all to prevail against seemingly impossible odds, and they won.” said Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3. “They taught us that you don’t always save the ship, but you never stop fighting. The reputation of that fighting spirit began to proceed our Navy wherever we sailed and that same spirit persists today.”
The Navy said not long after commissioning in 1998, the ship was called to action for Operation Stabilize in February 2000, providing peacekeeping and humanitarian operations off the coast of East Timor. Bonhomme Richard’s following deployment put it in the spotlight of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The vessel had been homeported at Naval Base San Diego since the spring of 2018, when it returned from a six-year port switch to Sasebo, Japan, while becoming the command ship for Navy Expeditionary Strike Group Seven.
The Bonhomme Richard is the fifth ship in the Wasp class.