John Paul Jones, the Bonhomme Richard took part in the most famous naval battle of the Revolutionary War, described as follows:
On 23 September 1779, they encountered the Baltic Fleet of 41 sail under convoy of HMS Serapis and Countess of Scarborough near Flamborough Head. After 18:00 Bonhomme Richard engaged Serapis and a bitter engagement, the Battle of Flamborough Head, ensued during the next four hours that cost the lives of nearly half the American and British crews. At first, a British victory seemed inevitable as the more heavily armed Serapis used its firepower to rake Bonhomme Richard with devastating effect, killing Americans by the score. The Commanding Officer of Serapis then called on Jones to surrender, who replied, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones eventually succeeded in lashing the two ships together, nullifying his opponent's greater maneuverability and attempting to take advantage of the larger size and considerably greater crew of Bonhomme Richard. An attempt by the Americans to board Serapis was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard. Finally, after another of Jones's squadron joined in the fight (uncaringly causing serious collateral damage aboard the Richard) the British captain surrendered at about 10:30 p.m. Bonhomme Richard, shattered, on fire, and leaking badly defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, 25 September 1779. John Paul Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the United Provinces for repairs.John Paul Jones. Share
Though Bonhomme Richard sank subsequent to the battle, the outcome of the battle convinced the French crown of the wisdom of backing the colonies in their fight to separate from British authority.