LHA6 News & Information
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 829-12
October 17, 2012
Navy to Christen Amphibious Assault Ship America
The Navy will christen the amphibious assault ship, America (LHA 6),
on Oct. 20, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos will deliver
the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Lynne Pace, wife of former Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, will serve as the ship's sponsor.
From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, three
warships have sailed with the name America. The first America was a 74-gun
ship-of-the-line built for use by the Continental Navy and then presented to the
king of France as a gift to show appreciation for his country's service to the
new nation. 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. America will be
the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.
"The LHA 6 will inherit and continue the proud tradition of
distinguished service that has long been associated with ships bearing the name
America," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "For decades to come, the
America Class will give sailors and Marines highly capable, flexible and
advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations."
The future USS America will be the first ship of its class,
replacing the Tawara class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation
"big-deck" amphibious ship, LHA 6 will be optimized for aviation, capable of
supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and
Joint Strike Fighter. The LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant,
zonal electrical distribution system, and electric auxiliary system built for
USS Makin Island (LHD 8). This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed
for fuel efficiency.
The LHA 6 will provide a flexible, multi-mission platform with
capabilities that span the range of military operations -- from forward deployed
crisis response to forcible entry operations. The ship also will provide
forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency
and multinational maritime expeditionary forces.
The America will operate for sustained periods in transit to, and
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 supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B.
Although the America will not include a well deck, the ship includes
additional aviation spaces and will have an increased aviation capacity:
enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance
facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support
equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.
The ship's keel was laid July 17, 2009, and the shipbuilder plans to
deliver the America in late 2013. The USS America will be homeported in San
Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls
Industries in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship will be 844 feet in length, with a
106-foot beam, and have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons.
Interested media may contact the Navy Office of Information at
703-697-5342. Information on amphibious assault ships is available online at:
May the new AMERICA find as fine a crew as was the case with the CVA66
The XO in the brig.
June 4, 2012 The LHA 6 America was launched today
With the CVA flying high.
the XO (left) and the Skipper
LHA 6 AMERICA COMES ALIVE
LHA 6 reaches construction milestone.
Construction of the future USS America achieved a major milestone with the
integration of Super Modules 1 and 2 at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)
in Pascagoula, Miss., in August. LHA 6 is constructed of three Super
Modules; Super Modules 1 and 2 are the main hull structure (forward and aft
sections, respectively) and Super Module 3 is the deck house. HII uses a
total of 217 smaller assemblies pre-outfitted with pipe, ventilation and
other hardware and then stacked, fitted together and welded to form Super
Modules. The joining of Super Module 1 and Super Module 2 represents a total
of 194 assemblies of the ship. Once the two halves of the hull structure are
welded together, LHA 6 will be ready for Super Module 3 to be landed and
welded onto the flight deck. "Countless hours of design and production
planning are reflected in each module to ensure a seamless integration with
one another," said Capt. Christopher Mercer, amphibious ships program
manager within PEO Ships. "By joining these two Super Modules, we are taking
monumental steps in bringing the future USS America to life."
LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plan, zonal electrical
distribution and electric auxiliary systems designed and built for the
recently delivered USS Makin Island (LHD 8), replacing the maintenance
intensive steam turbines of earlier ships. This unique auxiliary propulsion
system (APS) was designed for fuel efficiency. Instead of using main
propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction
type propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid.
The America class will replace the aging Tarawa class and will include
several enhancements to increase the aviation capacity of future big deck
amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future
aircraft. These include an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion
of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available
stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel
As an update to the article, they have completed welding Super Modules 1 and 2
together and plan to lift Super Module 3 (superstructure) on to the flight
deck tomorrow (9/24/2011).
This article from "NAVSEA Observer" and the photos come to us from Captain Hall PCO (LHA6)
Some interesting links about the LHA 6 AMERICA.
OFFICIAL NAVY WEBSITE FOR LHA6 AMERICA
check out the USS AMERICA LHA-6's official Navy web site.
CVA FLAG ON LHA6 AMERICA
USS AMERICA LHA 6 KEEL AUTHENTICATION
Representing the CVA at the ceremony were from left to right: Ed Fogarty, Ray Dermody, Don Tutuska, Brent Minahane, Ed Pelletier, Tom Trujillo, Kevin Kelly, Brian Skon and Walt Waite.
One of the main goals of the USS AMERICA CARREIR VETERANS ASSOCIATION is to perpetuate the memory of our great ship. Having witnessed her being towed out to sea to her final resting place, the CVA changed gears and started to put pressure on the Navy to put the name of our country back on the open seas. After having the SECNAV announce the naming of the LHA-6 the USS AMERICA at our reunion in 2008, this ceremony is the second step in seeing our efforts come full circle. Over the next six to seven years the CVA will continue to monitor and work with Grumman and the Navy to see this dream become a reality.
USS AMERICA LHA 6 KEEL AUTHENTICATION
PASCAGOULA, Miss., July 17, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) celebrated a significant milestone with a keel authentication ceremony for America (LHA 6), the Navy's newest class of large-deck amphibious assault ship, at the company's Pascagoula facility.
"There could be nothing more exciting to me than to be a part of this ship," said Lynne Pace, ship sponsor for America and wife of retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In step with Navy and maritime tradition, Mrs. Pace had her initials welded onto a ceremonial steel plate noting the ship's keel had been "truly and fairly laid."
"Today I'd like to thank the Northrop Grumman shipbuilders who will put their heart and soul into building this ship and making it the best in the world," she continued. "You have incredible talents, skills and craftsmanship that are needed to build the tools to help keep our country safe. For your dedication and patriotism, I thank you."
LHA 6, the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name America, replaces the aging Tarawa-class and represents a conscious decision to increase the aviation capacity of future big deck amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft.
"I can think of no more fitting place or time to celebrate this new ship and all she represents on the heels of our nation's 233rd birthday in a city and a shipyard that strongly reflect the values of this great nation," said Art Divens, executive director for Amphibious & Auxiliary Ships and Craft, executive director for Program Executive Office, Ships.
"Today's ceremony is especially noteworthy, for not only are we acknowledging a critical milestone in the Navy's newest ship of the line, but we are also celebrating a monumental leap forward in the strength, capability and flexibility of the Navy's amphibious fleet," Divens continued. "This ship can go in harm's way to project combat power ashore and is perfectly suited to support humanitarian assistance and other contingency missions on a moment's notice."
America will be 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and weighs 44,854 tons. Its propulsion system will drive it to speeds in excess of 22 knots. It will accommodate 1,204 crew and 1,871 troops.
"LHA 6 will be built by the best shipbuilders in the world," said Irwin F. Edenzon, sector vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Gulf Coast. "It will be built by thousands of Northrop Grumman men and women who are proud to be shipbuilders. We work everyday to design and build quality ships. The Sailors and Marines who sail in them and protect our nation's freedom deserve nothing less."
"America will carry her finest into harm's way, and her ability to return them safely will depend directly on the extraordinary efforts of this Gulf Coast shipyard," said U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Howell, executive officer and director of contracts, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast.
"To the men and women of Northrop Grumman, whether you realize it or not, you proudly wear the cloth of this great nation. Your uniform of denim and coveralls, often covered in soot and dust after a long day at the shipyard, represent a level of commitment that few will ever truly understand. The sweat from your brow from the long hours in the heat is the sacrifice you make so that your Navy and Marine Corps brothers and sisters will be less likely to bleed in conflict.
"Never let it be forgotten that it is your deft hands and skilled craftsmanship that are the key enablers to keeping the Global War on Terrorism from our shores," Capt. Howell added.
America will have an extended hangar deck with two higher hangar bay areas, each fitted with an overhead crane for aircraft maintenance. The ship will also provide increased aviation fuel capacity, stowage for aviation parts and support equipment. In addition, America will be able to embark and launch the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, cargo and attack helicopters, the AV-8B Harrier and the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II Strike Fighter.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Representing the CVA at the ceremony were from left to right: Ed Fogarty, Ray Dermody, Don Tutuska, Brent Minahane, Ed Pelletier, Tom Trujillo, Kevin Kelly, Brian Skon and Walt Waite.
One of the main goals of the USS AMERICA CARRIER VETERANS ASSOCIATION is to perpetuate the memory of our great ship. Having witnessed her being towed out to sea to her final resting place, the CVA changed gears and started to put pressure on the Navy to put the name of our country back on the open seas. After having the SECNAV announce the naming of the LHA-6 the USS AMERICA at our reunion last year, this ceremony is the second step in seeing our efforts come full circle. Over the next six to seven years the CVA will continue to monitor and work with Grumman and the Navy to see this dream become a reality.
Tom Trujillo Visits LHA-6 America
Tom Trujillo toured the USS America LHA-6 earlier today.
Here are the highlights of his visit
Captain Riedell who is the USN manager for the ship is transitioning his command to Captain Murcer. There is an aluminum Navy style flag pole on the bow of the ship which always flies a U.S. flag and due to the command change that initial flag was requested by Captain Riedell to fly over LHD 8 USS Makin Island for a week. It has since been encased in a shadow box and is being presented to Captain Riedell who was manager for both Makin Island and LHA6.
45 of 170 ship sections have been erected including two of the three superlifts. It looks like a ship with the bulbous bow section all the way just short of the fan tail in place. Amid ship the two outer sections containing the fuel and ballast tanks have yet to be installed, however, I visited both sections which are being constructed and well along.The bridge, made of aluminum, is sitting here and there in many sections.
America is being built in three super modules while Makin Island was built with five. Lessons learned from Makin will make America easier to build including requirements for cabling of which 30,000 miles have already been installed.
Marines and Senators toured last week and were impressed, however, still gripping about the lack of a well deck. Ship is to far along to change or cancel now.
LHA 6 America and LHA 7 (yet to be named) will be the same. They are currently trying to close the contract on LHA 7 and expect it any day. They expect LHA 7 to be named after Marine battles or original carrier names.
Gas turbines, generators and reduction gears are in place as are both fore and aft engine and machinery rooms. Saw these though most were under protective cover. Starboard shaft tube is in place, didn’t get to the port side. The ship is 26% erected today and sits next to LPD24 which is farther along in construction, next to the water. Soon America will take her place. According to the project schedule, on 1/7/11 America should be 70% erected with all hull sections completely joined.
They invite anyone to visit with prior clearance, however, I told them to send me requests if things get out of hand with frequent visits so we can work to plan them and not impact their busy schedules.
We are obviously invited to the christening which will happen within a few days of her hitting water in March / April 2013.
Lots of recent photographs on the way for the reunion including digital versions for the website and Facebook. They are also sending me a cutout of steel cut from the initial cut at the keel ceremony. They are going to see if they can get me more for the association. The size and thickness is similar to the original America steel mounted on the plaques for crewmembers and plank owners.
They expect to be able to send someone to the reunion in Kentucky. Might even be Kevin Jarvis himself.
It’s amazing how clean the ship is compared to LPD 24 next door. No cigarette butts or plastic bottles laying around etc! Everyone takes care of this ship. Jarvis said that everyone is still in a little bit of awe that we were able to get her named.
I guess I can now hold the celebratory title of the first CV66 vet to scamper aboard our ship
The LHA6 was named by the Secretary of the Navy on
Friday June 27, 2008 At the CVA'S REUNION 2008 In Jacksonville, FL. the USS AMERICA
USS AMERICA IS AN ANPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP THAT WILL PROVIDE FORWARD PRESENSE AND POWER PROJECTION AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF JOINT, INTERAGENCY AND MULTINATIONAL MARITIME EXPEDITIONARY FORCES. IT WILL SUPPORT MARINE AVIATION REQUIREMENTS, FROM SMALL-SCALE CONTIGENCY OPERATIONS OF A EXPEDITIONARY STRIKE GROUP, TO FORCIBLE ENTRY MISSIONS IN MAJOR THEATER WAR.
CREW SIZE - 65 NAVAL OFFICERS; 995 SAILORS; 1687 MARINE DETACHMENT ACCOMADATIONS
DISPLACEMENT-APPROXIMATLEY 45,000 TONS (FULL LOAD)
TWO ROLLING AIR FRAME MISSILE LAUNCHERS, TWO NATO SEA SPARROW MISSILE LAUNCHERS, TWO 20MM PHALANX CIWS GATLING GUNS, AND SEVEN MK95 MOD 1 TWIN .50 CALIBER MACHINE GUN MOUNTS.
USS AMERICA DESIGN IS OPTIMIZED FOR OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE FUTURE MARINE CORPS AVIATION INCLUDING THE MV-22 OSPREY TILTROTOR, AV-8B HARRIER JET, CH-53 SEA STALLION HELICOPTERS, AH-1Z SUPER COBRA HELICOPTERS, MH-60S SEAHAWK HELICOPTERS, AND THE F-35B JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER. IN LEU OF A WELL DECK, AMERICA ENHANCES THE AVIATION CAPABILITY BY PROVIDING AN ENLARGED HANGER DECK FOR AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE AND STORAGE.
Remarks by Donald C. Winter
Secretary of the Navy
USS AMERICA Veterans Association Reunion Dinner
Crown Plaza Hotel
Friday, June 27, 2008
General and Mrs. Pace, Mr. Walter Waite, Miss Kirsten Haglund, AMERICA veterans, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today among so many veterans.
In my experience, former crewmembers of a ship tend to be a very spirited bunch, devoted to their ship and passionate in their support of the Navy.
However, I must say, I have never met a more enthusiastic group than USS AMERICA veterans.
It is clear that your lifelong devotion to your ship and what it represents is deeply felt, and comes from the heart.
To serve in a ship named after our country adds to the pride one feels in being part of the Navy, and adds to the feeling that when AMERICA pulls into port, there is no more powerful symbol of the strength, the ideals, and the greatness of the United States of America.
Those who have served in USS AMERICA feel this intensely, and they have left behind a great legacy.
Entering service in 1965, at the height of the Cold War, USS AMERICA began a career spanning three decades that included participation at the center of some of the most important events of the period.
The American people, watching at home, learned on the evening news about many of them—through the crisis of 1967 in the Middle East, through three deployments to Vietnam, and through the difficult, tense days off the coast of Lebanon during the early 1980’s.
AMERICA returned to the center of events in 1986, performing freedom of navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra, and then starring in Operation El Dorado Canyon in response to Libya’s terrorist attack on a nightclub in West Berlin that April.
That operation, assessed by all observers to have been a spectacular feat of mission planning and execution, put AMERICA on the map as an indispensable asset in moments of crisis.
The entire national security team knew that AMERICA’s superbly trained crew could be counted on when the Nation needed it most.
Eight years later, the commander in chief would once again turn to AMERICA to execute combat missions in a moment of crisis.
After heroically accelerating her time in the shipyard for maintenance, AMERICA joined three other aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf in February 1991, just prior to the launch of Operation Desert Storm.
3008 combat sorties later—including 78 consecutive days at sea—AMERICA left the Gulf and headed home, laden with heroes and honors.
Those who served on her—and those who served alongside her—still remember the scene of that departure for home after the ship’s last underway replenishment.
With the ship’s choir singing Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American,” broadcast on the 1MC, there was not a dry eye to be found on deck.
It was a breakaway song that lifted every heart to the skies.
AMERICA’s veterans have much to be proud of, and superb performance will always be associated with that name.
It is with this extraordinary legacy in mind that I would like to take this opportunity to announce the name of what will be one of the crown jewels of our Fleet.
And so today, I am proud to announce that LHA 6, our newest amphibious assault ship, will carry on the proud legacy of her predecessors and be named . . . USS AMERICA.
America today is confronted with unprecedented terrorist threats from global jihadists who openly state their goals of our destruction.
We also live in a world of rising powers in Asia—some with the potential to challenge us both economically and militarily.
We cannot afford to be complacent.
History is replete with examples of nations caught unprepared for the threats that unexpectedly brought war to their shores.
We must not make the same mistake.
We cannot know if nations will evolve along a peaceful path.
We can, however, take notice when nations with growing power and ambitions are rapidly developing their military capabilities—especially at sea.
Given these dangers today, and potential threats tomorrow, we need a Navy and Marine Corps capable of both prosecuting today’s war against global jihadists and meeting the challenges that future wars may bring.
LHA-6 will be a superb new addition to the amphibious fleet, showcasing the tremendous synergy and unique capabilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team.
The expeditionary capabilities of the United States—made famous across the Pacific and on D-Day in World War II, and raised to new heights in today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—are second to none. The capabilities that our Navy and Marine Corps bring to the Joint fight differentiate our military from the militaries of other nations, providing us with both powerful deterrence and unmatched forcible entry capability.
Drawing on the lessons learned from combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Navy and Marine Corps determined that an amphibious platform with enhanced aviation facilities would best meet our warfighting requirements.
The design for LHA 6 is the result.
It will be a ship worthy of her illustrious namesake, and it will continue America’s long tradition of peace through strength—a tradition that dates from our Founding.
Indeed, President George Washington spelled out clearly the policy that should guide the young Nation in a turbulent, dangerous world:
“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure the peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.”
The AMERICA is a wise investment in our Nation’s security, and it will help us to face the challenges of an uncertain future.
Let us all resolve to carry on our Nation’s honored tradition of peace through strength.
With the fighting spirit of USS AMERICA and the rest of our world class Navy
and Marine Corps, America will continue to fulfill her destiny as a beacon of freedom in the world.
* * *
Now I would like to make an additional announcement.
There is a time-honored tradition in the United States Navy of extending an invitation to a distinguished individual to act as a ship’s sponsor.
It is the role of the ship’s sponsor to perform the ceremonial duty of breaking a bottle of champagne on the hull of the ship, formally christening her for all to see.
The sponsor then becomes part of that ship’s history, charged with carrying on the spirit of the ship, whatever her destiny.
The ship’s company may change many times over the course of a ship’s life, but the sponsor remains the same.
I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Lynne Pace has graciously accepted our invitation to serve as the sponsor of USS AMERICA.
In her many years as a Marine spouse—from the time her husband was a junior officer through his service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—and in their continued service after his retirement last year, Lynne Pace has been both a role model and an inspiration to others.
Lynne is universally respected and admired as someone who has devoted a lifetime to supporting our armed forces, and who has been engaged in countless charitable activities for many decades.
Whether serving to support CARE, the USO, Fisher House, mentorship programs, or injured Marines at Bethesda and Walter Reed, Lynne has been an inspiration to all those whose lives she has touched with her grace, humility, and kind heart.
She exemplifies everything that is great about our country, and it would be difficult to imagine anyone who could better carry on the spirit of this ship, than Lynne Pace.
Lynne, thank you for accepting this honor. And now, I invite you, Walter Waite and the Board of Directors to please join on the stage for the unveiling.
Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, Miss America, Kirsten Hagland, Gen. and Mrs. Pace.
From the July 14, 2008 issue of the Navy Times
Carrier veterans embrace new ‘America’ gator
Amphib expected to join fleet in 2013
Some 15 months after losing their first bid to have a new aircraft carrier named “America,” the veterans of the last carrier America got their prize June 27 when the Navy announced its new amphibious assault ship would take the name.
Navy Secretary Donald Winter told a reunion of the America Carrier Veterans Association in Jacksonville, Fla., that the name would be given to the ship previously known only as LHA 6, scheduled to join the fleet in 2013.
The veterans of the America have been calling for another ship to take the name since theirs, an 83,000-ton conventionally powered flattop, was sunk as a target in 2005 after 31 years of service. Although many other groups and individuals lobby Winter on behalf of ship names, the America veterans achieved their goal in record time.
The new America is planned as a 45,000-ton, gas-turbine-powered gator with an axial flight deck similar to a Wasp-class amphib, but no floodable well deck for landing craft. Although the ship’s numbering scheme technically puts it in the Tarawa class, which began with hull number LHA 1, Navy officials said the new America will have more in common with the amphibious assault ship Makin Island, LHD 8, now under construction in Pascagoula, Miss.
The Makin Island and the America are the first big amphibs with gas turbine power plants, as opposed to the steam boilers of their predecessors, and the America takes an even further departure by doing away with a well deck, in favor of a longer, broader flight deck to accommodate the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing version of the F-35 Lighting II. Many other refinements, including new all-electric systems, mean the Navy considers both the Makin Island and the America “first-in-class ships.”
A poster using the name Rich McKinney on Navy Times’ message boards asked whether the America, with no well deck, should even be called an “amphibious assault ship.”
Even before it had a hull number, the ship now known as the America began as a Navy and Marine Corps requirement for an LHA replacement, or LHA(R), an aviation-only gator nicknamed “the Marine Corps aircraft carrier.” The Navy and the Marine Corps originally wanted two ships, one for the East and West coast, but Congress hasn’t yet funded a second ship, and it remains unclear how many will be built.
As long as the name “America” is somewhere in the fleet, that’s just fine with the veterans organization, said Don Richardson, a board member who serves as a spokesman for the group. Richardson, who served from 1968 to 1970 aboard the America as an aviation boatswain’s mate second class, is a defense contractor in Kentucky.
He said the America Carrier Veterans Association originally wanted its ship on the Navy’s donation list, so it could become a museum, and when that failed, the group wanted the “America” name on the carrier that eventually became the Gerald R. Ford.
When that push failed, a FedEx account executive named Brian Skon sent the group an e-mail letting them know there was another unnamed ship, the LHA(R), which was kind of an aircraft carrier. After a vote, the America veterans decided to begin lobbying the Navy to name that ship.
“I told the board members that the previous Americas had all been different classes of ships — it’s fitting that things worked out this way. Plus this is going to be a new class of LHA of its own, and every subsequent LHA that gets built will now be the America class,” Richardson said.
Although that would be tradition, Navy officials said they weren’t sure if any follow-on ships would be called the America class, or if the name “America” set up a naming precedent for subsequent ships.
from the July 21, 2008 issue of the Navy Times
America class’ future remains undecided
Upcoming LHAs may operate under Military Sealift Command
The USS America Carrier Veterans Association sent a letter to Navy Secretary Donald Winter on July 5, thanking him for putting their old ship’s name on the new amphibious assault ship previously known only as LHA 6. The break in tradition — of naming big-deck gators after famous Marine Corps battles — was just the most recent in a series of unusual details about the ship.
It has gas turbines, instead of steam boilers like its predecessors. It has no floodable well deck. It’s designed to carry more strike fighters than any previous amphib, giving the Marine Corps its own “aircraft carrier” to accompany task groups of traditional gators. And ultimately, the America may be the only ship of its kind.
Although plans call for the Navy to buy another ship similar to the America — which will form the “America class,” a spokeswoman with Naval Sea Systems Command confirmed — the second ship could nonetheless be radically different. It could have a similar design, but not be a warship. Instead, the second America could be built to civilian standards, not military; have a civilian crew and master; and operate under Military Sealift Command.
Under that scenario, it would have no built-in weapons, likely have a radically different internal design from the first America and be operated more like an MSC auxiliary than a Navy warship.
Then again, that could all change.
‘Very much in flux’
Pentagon planners have gone back and forth about what will be known as the America class, originally called the LHA(R) and envisioned as an aviation-centric replacement for the Tarawa-class gators. Originally, the second America was planned definitively as a Navy warship, so the Marine Corps could have one LHA for each coast, but it lost its funding in 2006 in favor of other ships.
In the Navy’s most recent shipbuilding plan, the second LHA re-emerged as part of the Maritime Preposition Force (Future), a planned squadron of less-robust auxiliary ships that would support an amphibious invasion after full-fledged warships had done the fighting.
But analysts said some Navy and Marine Corps leaders still would prefer at least two warships, as opposed to the America and MSC follow-ons. That, in turn, could affect the plan for the new MPF(F) ships and, potentially, the Pentagon’s underlying ideas about sea basing.
“The plan is very much in flux,” said Robert Work, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“There are arguments in favor of both” warships and MSC ships, naval author Norman Polmar said.
Winter’s spokeswoman, Capt. Beci Brenton, said Winter meets frequently with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead to discuss gator requirements. She said July 9 that Winter continues to support the existing plan for a follow-on LHA(R) to be an MSC ship.
An LHA 7’s bigger flight deck and ability to carry more weapons and aviation fuel would give the Navy another warship built specifically to launch and support the new F-35B Lighting II joint strike fighter.
Rather than the MSC option, Work said he thought the Navy should add more America-class warships — he compared them to the escort carriers of World War II, which was the last time a smaller ship could carry the same front-line strike aircraft as a full-size fleet carrier. The AV-8B Harriers carried today by Wasp-class gators can’t fly as far or as fast as the F-35B — or pack as big a punch.
In their current configurations, the Wasps can’t support F-35Bs, Navy officials said. The Lighting II has a very powerful engine, and commanders worry that the jet blast could overheat and even warp the flight decks of today’s gators and carriers, although those effects won’t be clear until the first F-35B is tested on a ship, around 2010.
Navy spokesman Lt. Clay Doss said the eight Wasp-class gators — including the gas-turbine powered Makin Island, now under construction — would be augmented to handle the F-35B, starting with the Bataan. When the modifications are complete, the Navy plans for each Wasp-class ship to be able to carry six
F-35Bs, Doss said.
AMERICA WILL RETURN TO SEA
Pictured above: To the left of the poster, Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Dr. Winters, with Mrs. Pace, the LHA's sponsor, to his right, are joined by the Board of Directors of the USS AMERICA CARRIER VETERAN'S .
LHA6 Has Been Named
Pictured above from left to right: Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Pace, USMC Ret. joins his wife Lynne, Rear Admiral Robert Fuller, USN Ret. his wife Mary Anne and the President of the CVA, Walter Waite.
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