Gunner’s Mate Seaman Thomas Amason mans the .50 caliber machine gun and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Bennett Evans stands lookout aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the ship gets underway, Jan. 10. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Christian M. Caldwell)

SASEBO, Japan - The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), departed Jan. 10 for its deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Bonhomme Richard will embark the Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and proceed to take part in amphibious integration training (AIT), a certification exercise (CERTEX) and conduct various other exercises aimed at increasing mission readiness.

AIT and CERTEX are training exercises focusing on the ARG’s and 31st MEU’s amphibious assault capabilities, humanitarian assistance capabilities, disaster relief operations and non-combatant evacuation missions.

“We’re excited to get Bonhomme Richard back to sea and, along with our brothers and sisters in the 31st MEU, demonstrate our commitment to our allies in the Pacific,” said Capt. Joey Tynch, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer. “The crew has done an incredible job getting the ship ready for this deployment and their continuing hard work and dedicated focus to execute the basics flawlessly will carry the BHR through a safe and well executed mission.”

This deployment will also mark the first time many junior enlisted Sailors will get underway for a full deployment aboard Bonhomme Richard.

“Sailors should be at sea,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Cody Hayes. “It’s exciting to finally get underway, execute my job at sea and see the world. It’s what I joined the Navy to do and it should be a great deployment.”

Bonhomme Richard is the first of two ship’s from the ARG to get underway with USS Ashland (LSD 48) expected to join at a later date.

Bonhomme Richard ARG is currently under the tactical command of embarked Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11, Capt. Heidi Agle and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.