On June 19, 1779, Bonhomme Richard sailed from L'Orient accompanied by Alliance, Pallas, Vengeance, and Cerf with troop transports and merchant vessels under convoy to Bordeaux and to cruise against the British in the Bay of Biscay. Forced to return to port for repair, the squadron sailed again August 14, 1779. Going northwest around the west coast of the British Isles into the North Sea and then down the east coast the squadron took 16 merchant vessels as prizes.
On September 23, 1779, they encountered the Baltic Fleet of 41 sail under convoy of HMS Serapis (44) and Countess of Scarborough (22) near Flamborough Head. After 1800 Bonhomme Richard engaged Serapis and a bitter engagement ensued during the next four hours before Serapis struck her colors. Bonhomme Richard, shattered, on fire, and leaking badly defied all efforts to save her and sank at 1100 on September 25, 1779. John Paul Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the United Provinces for repairs.