The keel for the next-generation amphibious warship Tripoli (LHA-7) was laid in a ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. on Friday.
The ceremony marked the official start of construction for the second America-class landing helicopter dock for the U.S., following the $3 billion first-in-class America (LHA-6) — which plans to commission later this year.
“Like America, Tripoli boasts a very credible and capable aviation centric design that replaces the Tarawa class of amphibious assault ships,” Capt. Christopher Mercer, Amphibious Warfare Program Manager within Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships said in a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) statement.
“The design brings with it increased capabilities and will maximize the Navy’s investment in future aircraft.”
Each of the 45,000-ton ships in the class are optimized for modern Marine aircraft like the MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey and the short takeoff-vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
However, America and Tripoli were designed without a well deck — which allows a ship to take on and disembark amphibious landing craft — much to the protest of the Marine Corps.
LHA-8 will be redesigned to incorporate a well deck into the design.