The once-mighty amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard will retire from service in 2021, becoming little more than scrap following a devastating fire this summer. Big Navy was forced to conclude that getting the big-deck amphib back into the fight would just cost too much.
Bonhomme Richard will be decommissioned and scrapped sometime in 2021, Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, commander of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center, said in November.
It will likely make the long trip from its San Diego homeport to the Gulf Coast as a final voyage.
While the brass expressed hope that they could get the ship back into fighting form following the five-day inferno at a San Diego pier in July, it would cost between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion to resurrect the 22-year-old ship.
To perhaps turn it into a hospital ship or some other vessel would cost more than $1 billion and take between five and seven years, Ver Hage said.
All told, 60 percent of the ship would have had to be replaced.
To add to the financial punch of losing Bonhomme Richard, the amphib was underdoing $250 million worth of upgrades at the time of the fire so it could accommodate the F-35B joint strike fighter.
In 2021, Bonhomme Richard’s service will not end in glorious battle or a dignified retirement ceremony, but with the ignominious whimper, parts of a once-mighty vessel now strewn atop a peacetime scrap heap.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.