Searching for the Bon Homme Richard

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FRIDAY 6-06-08….The U.S. Navy’s only nuclear powered research submarine is embarking this month on a search for another famous ship…the ship on whose decks captain John Paul Jones declared “I have not yet begun to fight.” Yep…the search for the famous Bon Homme Richard is on.

The search is underway in the North Sea in which the Bon Homme Richard dueled with the British frigate Serapis off the English coast for nearly four hours back in 1779 during the Revolutionary War.

After the American ship had taken heavy damage, the British captain of the Serapis shouted a question to Jones about whether or not he had lowered or “struck” his flag indicating surrender. Jones responded by saying “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike.” And then the famous words all present day sailors are taught in boot camp, as John Paul Jones said “I have not yet begun to fight.”

Jones and his crew eventually won the fight, taking the British ship as their prize…but the Bon Hom Richard was so badly damaged that it drifted for two days before finally sinking. And today, the search is underway using the nuclear-powered research sub NR-1.

If searchers are successful, personal effects from the wreck will help confirm that it is Jones’ ship. But there is one catch. The French government might take possession of it because the French had loaned the Bon Hom Richard to the American revolutionaries who were fighting the British. The French just might want their ship back…wrecked or not, plus any or all artifacts that may be found.

Ah…but the search goes on.

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One Response

  1. I was curious as to the origin of the name Bon Homme Richard and came across this information on the web —

    Originally a merchant ship named Duc de Duras it was refitted as a warship and renamed Bon Homme Richard by John Paul Jones to honor Benjamin Franklin.

    Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac had been published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard, hence the name..

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