Navy searches for Jones' famed frigate

By Philip Ewig

On the brink of retirement, the Navy’s only nuclear-powered research submarine will join the hunt this summer for the wreck of one of the most famous U.S. Navy warships in history — the frigate Bonhomme Richard, from which Capt. John Paul Jones had not yet begun to fight.

The Ocean Technology Foundation of Groton, Conn., will work with the submarine NR-1 starting in June to search the North Sea for the wreck of the Bonhomme Richard, which dueled off the English coast for almost four hours in 1779 with the British frigate Serapis.

At one point, when the American frigate had taken heavy damage, Capt. Richard Pearson of the Serapis is said to have shouted a question to Jones about whether he had lowered, or “struck” his flag, showing surrender.
Jones’ apocryphal reply: “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike !”

Jones and his crew won the battle, taking the Serapis as their prize, but the Bonhomme Richard was so badly damaged that it drifted for about 36 hours and then sank.


Bonhomme Richard U.S. Navy warships Capt. John Paul Jones