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America Completes Acceptance Trials

America (LHA-6) returns to Ingalls Shipyard Jan. 31, 2014 from acceptance trials. US Navy Photo

America (LHA-6) returns to Ingalls Shipyard Jan. 31, 2014 from acceptance trials. US Navy Photo

The first in a new class of amphibious warship has completed its acceptance trials, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced this week. The future USS America (LHA-6) conducted three days of trials in the Gulf of Mexico departing from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. in late January, NAVSEA said.

The trials conducted over two hundred tests on the ship’s systems including the ship’s propulsion systems, which are based on the propulsion plant of the USS Makin Island (LHD-8) with uses a gas turbine hybrid drive instead of an older steam plant design.

“The ship performed extremely well,” said Capt. Chris Mercer, Amphibious Warfare program manager for the Program Executive Office, Ships for NAVSEA said in a statement. “There were no major deficiencies identified. This marks a tremendous achievement for any ship, made only more impressive by America’s size, complexity and that the ship is the lead ship for the amphibious assault replacement program.”

The $3 billion America is the first in a class of amphibious warship with an emphasis on U.S. Marine Corps aviation assets like the MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey and the short takeoff-vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The 44,850-ton ship — and follow on Tripoli (LHA-7) — are the first amphibious warships built in recent memory with out a well deck — to the protest of the Marines Corps. The Navy has asked Ingalls to design LHA-8 with a well deck to allow the ship to take on and offload amphibious landing craft.

The successful acceptance trials will follow with an anticipated commissioning in the second quarter of this year. America will be based at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

  • RunningBear

    Will the Corp ever accept the lack of need for seashore assault (welldecks) by boats for an air assault by helicopter? Apparently, not soon. Establishing the beachhead is the objective; not floating around in tiny boats for the TV news crews. God Bless the heroes that took the beach at Iwo Jima, but is that in the future of the Corp? The Corp is the marine infantry for this country, regardless of the assault type from the ship.

    ..”The first Marines (15th MEU) of UNITAF landed on the beaches of Somalia on 9 December 1992 amid a media circus. The press “seemed to know the exact time and place of the Marines’ arrival” and waited on the airport runway and beaches to capture the moment.”..WT….. 🙁 ???

    • Sandy

      the rationale is that the new LSDs and LPDs can handle the ship-to-shore offload. That said, when you lack the extra well deck, you remove the speed in which they can establish a defensible beach-head to say nothing of the added logistics as more will have to rely on air for logistical transport rather than the air supporting combat ops and logistics inshore. Whn the logistics ships arrive, you then lack the two extra LCACs that would be in that well-deck to move heavy equipment – still have to move ‘dozers, beach forklifts, trucks, and now, armored trucks if needed, etc. As for Somalia, the FORECON element was caught in the cameras – but a SEAL Team 1 platoon had been there 12 hours earlier and already moved inshore. I’m sure that the press, already there, were tipped off from State people there….it happens…not good, but it happens….and, the beach was right there on the airport..it was a place a lot of people went to party……

      • DavidBarton

        It is obvious that the armchair general has never participated in a ship to shore movement and knows nothing of the amphibious missions of the Marine Corps. The capability to mount a raid from water and air must be maintained.

  • CharleyA

    The Marines as a whole protested the lack of well deck, or just certain factions within?

  • DavidBarton

    The Marine Corps is an Amphibious force first. Like a good football team it has to maintain the capability to attack by watercraft (run) or aircraft (pass). Any Marine worth his salt would wonder why there is no well deck in this ship. Watercraft is the most efficient way to get the heavy loads ashore to support follow on operations. A raid may be conducted by sea or air but using both is just as likely. The configuration of a raid is situation and mission dependent. The America will require another ship with a well deck to accompany it in an ARG. Amphibious Special OPs from Recon to SEALs use watercraft as a means of insertion. I would love to see the Marines climbing nets again myself but that I hope is truly a thing of the past….lol–Gunny Barton, Ret.

    • Alex

      I agree with David, maybe that’s why the original order is now just 2! This was a mistake, shows problems with procurement. I think when encountering even a rudimentary force the ship is vulnerable when off loading, much more than a similar ship possessing a well deck.