The first of the Navy’s latest class of amphibious warship, America (LHA-6), is set to depart Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. for the West Coast on Thursday, according to Huntington Ingalls Industries.
America is scheduled for commissioning on Oct. 11 in San Francisco and will be based at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
The 44,850-ton ship successfully completed its acceptance trails earlier this year in the Gulf of Mexico, which included tests of more than 200 hundred systems and the ship’s gas turbine hybrid drive.
The $3 billion ship and second in class Tripoli (LHA-7), currently under construction, are being built with an emphasis on aviation assets like the MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey and the Marine variant of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). However, the ships do not a have a well-deck for amphibious landing craft.
The third ship in the class — the yet-to-be-named LHA-8 —is currently being redesigned to include a well-deck.
The America LHAs will eventually replace the current 8 Wasp and single Tarawa class amphibious warships to form the centerpiece of the Navy’s three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
America will directly replace the last Tarawa-class amphibious warship — USS Peleliu (LHA-5). Peleliu is planned to be decommissioned in 2015 and enter the Navy’s reserve fleet, according to the Navy’s latest long-range shipbuilding plan.