The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) spent six days berthed at Station Pier from 28 August to 3 September. The 275m long ship occupied nearly the entire inner east berth.
The ship had been on training exercises in the Indo-Pacific region to prepare for any contingency and ‘enhance warfighting readinesss’. The visit to Australia included joint training exercises with the Australian Navy.
Between ship and shore, sailors and marines were greeted by a group of Waterfront Welcomers, who came out especially for the occasion, before dispersing into Melbourne.
Over the six days, a steady stream of people came to view the ship – though you could hardly say there were crowds. There was a mildly festive mood.
USS Bonhomme Richard left Port on the morning of September 3rd against a background of escalating international tension with North Korea testing its missile capability to deliver nuclear weapons.
The last US warship to berth at Princes Pier was the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Tarawa, escorted by the destroyer USS O’Bannon, in 1954. The purpose of that visit was to commemorate the Battle of the Coral Sea which took place between 4 and 8 May 1942.
The Battle of the Coral Sea was seen as a turning point in the war in interrupting the Japanese advance towards Australia.
Thanks to Allan Marshall for his assistance with this post
I remember my mother taking me to Port Melbourne to see a US aircraft carrier. I thought it was the Enterpise. Mid 1960’s or early 1970s. I think I remember walking in the carrier. Do you have records of US navy carriers that visited Port Melbourne during those years? Also, there was a US naval ship that was “too big to fit through the heads” in my childhood.
We’ll have to have a look Mel. Might take a few weeks with Easter but we’ll see what we can find out.
I found this press release from Malcolm Fraser, 20 September 1964 where he says he visited the carrier, USS Enterprise off the coast of Victoria stating that it could not visit Melbourne (ie fit through the heads) because of its size.
So perhaps it was a different US Naval ship that you visited.