USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) gets underway from Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 18. (U.S. Navy/MCSN William Sykes)

SASEBO, Japan - The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), departed Jan. 18 for a patrol of the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Bonhomme Richard is conducting routine maintenance and making preparations to embark the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) for amphibious integration training (AIT) and a certification exercise (CERTEX).

"This patrol will provide an opportunity for our Navy and Marine Corps team to showcase their abilities in areas ranging from amphibious operations to multinational interoperability,” said Capt. Jeffrey Ward, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer. “It is gratifying to be out to sea again and we are ready to integrate with the 31st MEU.”

The crew of Bonhomme Richard will work alongside the 31st MEU to complete their certifications and roll into upcoming exercises.

“My crew has worked tirelessly over the past few months to ensure that we are mission ready. We are extremely excited to test our capabilities and hone our proficiencies alongside our Marine counterparts,” said Ward. ”Strengthening our blue-green team is vital to the success of our amphibious mission.”

Bonhomme Richard is the one of three ships from the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and will meet up with amphibious dock landing ships USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) at a later date.