America class

The America class ships are the next step in the incremental development of the amphibious assault ship and will replace the Tarawa class (LHA-1). USS America (LHA-6), the first of two planned Flight 0 ships, is an aviation-centric, modified repeat of the USS Makin Island (LHD-8). The new ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA-8 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability.

The amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) returned to Ingalls Shipbuilding on Saturday, November 9, 2013, following successful builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico (Photo by Steve Blount)
The amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) returned to Ingalls Shipbuilding on Saturday, November 9, 2013, following successful builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico (Photo by Steve Blount)

Since the American Revolution, three U.S. Navy warships have sailed with the name America. The first America was originally a racing schooner launched in 1851 and taken into Confederate naval service in 1861 before being captured and taken into the U.S. Navy in 1862. She served in the Navy until 1873 before returning to civilian life racing and cruising. In 1921 she was presented to the Navy for preservation as a relic and remained at the U.S. Naval Academy until being scrapped in 1945. The second America transported troops during World War I. The third ship to bear the name was a Kitty-Hawk class aircraft carrier that supported operations from the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm. USS America will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.

The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) performs flight operations while underway to Rim of the Pacific 2016
The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) performs flight operations while underway to Rim of the Pacific 2016

 

Missions and Operations

Modern U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships project power and maintain presence as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. These ships operate for sustained periods in transit to operations in an Amphibious Objective Area to include embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors.

Alongside the Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD) and Dock Landing Ship (LSD), LHA ships will serve as cornerstone members of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG)/Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), forming a cohesive Navy/Marine Corps combined-arms team ready to respond to all missions across the range of military operations.

Key differences between LHA-6 and the LHD class ships include an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced aviation maintenance facilities, increased aviation fuel capacity, additional aviation storerooms, removal of the well deck, and an electronically reconfigurable C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) suite
Key differences between LHA-6 and the LHD class ships include an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced aviation maintenance facilities, increased aviation fuel capacity, additional aviation storerooms, removal of the well deck, and an electronically reconfigurable C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) suite

ARG/ESG ships transport and land elements of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) or Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) with a combination of aircraft and landing craft. USS America and the USS Tripoli (LHA-7) are capable of Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL), Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL), Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tilt-rotor, and Rotary Wing (RW) aircraft operations. In addition to the aviation capabilities of LHA-6 and LHA-7, the well deck incorporated on LHA-8 will support the use of air cushion vehicles and other watercraft such as Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) and Landing Craft Utility (LCU).

USS America (LHA-6) is designed execute core areas of the Navy’s Maritime Defense Strategy, «A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power».

An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), marking the ship's first launch and recovery of the aircraft
An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), marking the ship’s first launch and recovery of the aircraft
  • Forward Presence – Capability to forward deploy and remain on station for extended periods, which enables us to develop and maintain strong relationships with partner nations across the globe.
  • Deterrence – Provide deterrence through presence and effective Theater Security Cooperation engagements. This creates security by minimizing conditions for conflict.
  • Sea Control – LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) will use its modular mission packages to control Sea Lines of Communication by defeating swarming surface craft, enhancing the Fleet’s ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) capability, both in littoral waters and in concert with current ASW forces in the open ocean, and counter mine threats to sea lines of communication, particularly in global commerce chokepoints.
  • Power Projection – Deliver and sustain power from over the horizon through significant airpower and command and control capabilities.
  • Maritime Security – Maintain security at sea against piracy, terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and other illicit activities.
  • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR) – Provide the heavy airlift needed to deliver supplies to inaccessible areas after a disaster or conduct rapid and sustained non-combatant evacuation operations when personal safety is in jeopardy.
Tugboats offer a salute to the amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) as it sails away from Ingalls Shipbuilding, on Friday, July 11, 2014 (Photo by Shane Scara/HII)
Tugboats offer a salute to the amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) as it sails away from Ingalls Shipbuilding, on Friday, July 11, 2014 (Photo by Shane Scara/HII)

Equipped with two marine gas turbines providing 70,000 horsepower/52,199 kW, the 844-foot/257.3-meters America class LHA-6 is capable of reaching more than 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h at sea. The largest of all amphibious warfare ships, she is capable of supporting Marine aircraft and providing a superb means of ship-to-shore movement.

America-class ships will facilitate forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency, and multinational maritime expeditionary forces, supporting the Marine Corps tenets of Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) and Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM). As an amphibious ship, her mission includes embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force, and support forces by helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft.

America also marks the first of the Navy’s newest class of amphibious assault ships replacing the Tarawa class. It is considered to be the next generation «big-deck» amphibious ship. At sea, the new ship will be more capable to support current and future aircraft, including the MV-22B Osprey, F-35B Lightning II and the future CH-53K King Stallion.

Tugboats guide the amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) to her berthing place at Ingalls Shipbuilding. The Ingalls-built amphibious transport dock Arlington (LPD-24) can be seen in the background
Tugboats guide the amphibious assault ship America (LHA-6) to her berthing place at Ingalls Shipbuilding. The Ingalls-built amphibious transport dock Arlington (LPD-24) can be seen in the background

 

Design & Construction

The 844-foot/257.3-meters LHA-6 America class amphibious assault ship takes approximately five years to build. Its construction consists of 216 structural units, requiring 170 erection lifts, including grand blocks, plus two lifts to set the deckhouse on board (the main house, followed by smaller forward section). These blocks are built on land, starting with the ship’s midsection, and later moved to dry dock for launch by translation cars.

The America class is unique among large deck amphibious ships in that it is designed without a well deck, which is used to launch amphibious landing craft. Instead, they are designed with a larger hangar enabling it to carry more aircraft.

Two main turbines provide 70,000 horsepower/52,199 kW. Additionally, USS America LHA-6 has a separate source of propulsion, a unique Auxiliary Propulsion System (APS), which was designed for fuel efficiency. The APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship’s electrical grid. America class ships include 1,000 miles/1,609 km of electrical cable, 431,000 feet/131,369 m of pipe and enough hullboard insulation to cover 40 acres/161,874 m2.

An artist's rendering of an America-class amphibious assault ship. Tripoli (LHA-7) will be 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and will displace 44,971 long tons
An artist’s rendering of an America-class amphibious assault ship. Tripoli (LHA-7) will be 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and will displace 44,971 long tons

 

General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Date Deployed Delivered to the fleet in on April 10, 2014
Propulsion Two marine gas turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower/52,199 kW, two 5,000 horsepower/3,728 kW auxiliary propulsion motors
Length 844 ft/257.3 m
Beam 106 ft/32.3 m
Displacement Approximately 43,745 long tons full load/44,449 metric tons
Speed 20+ knots/23+ mph/37+ km/h
Crew 1,059 (65 officers)
Load 1,687 troops (plus 184 surge)
Armament 2 RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) launchers
2 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers with ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile)
2 20-mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) mounts
7 twin 12,7-mm/.50 cal. machine guns
Aircraft 9 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft
4 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters
4 CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters
12 MV-22B Osprey VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) tiltrotors
2 MH-60S Sea Hawk Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters
UH-1Y Huey helicopters

Tripoli will be the third ship to bear the name, which commemorates the capture of Derna in 1805 by a small force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nations. The battle, memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn with the line «to the shores of Tripoli» brought about a successful conclusion to the combined operations of the First Barbary War.

 

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS America (LHA-6) 07-17-2009 06-04-2012 10-11-2014 San Diego, California
USS Tripoli (LHA-7) 06-22-2014      
USS Bougainville (LHA-8)        

USS America continues to conduct flight operations and manuevering drills while transiting to Hawaii for ‪‎RIMPAC-2016

USS America continues to conduct flight operations and manuevering drills while transiting to Hawaii for ‪‎RIMPAC-2016

Leave a Reply