SAN DIEGO – The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed its homeport of San Diego today for a deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean.

The crew of Bonhomme Richard will participate in various exercises within the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, and conduct a hull swap with USS Essex (LHD 2) as part of the Navy long range plan to maintain continuous, highly capable amphibious ready group forward presence in the Pacific Fleet.

The Navy announced Aug. 19, 2011, that USS Essex (LHD 2) will be relieved in the spring by Bonhomme Richard as the Navy’s only permanently forward deployed amphibious assault ship in Sasebo, Japan.

The crews of both ships will remain in their current geographic locations and simultaneously execute a hull swap and exchange commands.

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