In this file photo, amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) participates in the Parade of Ships during the 62nd annual Seattle Seafair Fleet Week, Aug. 3, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Lockwood)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The U.S. Navy announced Aug. 19, the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), currently homeported in San Diego, will be forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, to replace the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

Bonhomme Richard is expected to arrive in Japan in early-Spring for turnover with Essex in order to fill the forward deployed naval force (FDNF) LHD assignment. Essex will be re-assigned to the U.S. 3rd Fleet rotational forces and homeported in San Diego. Crews and families of both ships will remain in their current locations.

Bonhomme Richard and Essex will turnover, execute a hull swap, and simultaneously exchange commands. This hull swap is in execution of the U.S. Navy's long range plan to update the FDNF with the most capable assets. Upon completion of modernization and maintenance upgrades in 2011, Bonhomme Richard will be the most capable ship of its class.

Increasing the capability of forward deployed naval forces demonstrates the commitment and continuous presence the United States maintains in support of the security of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.