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First in New Class of U.S. Amphibious Warship Commissions on Saturday

ailors assigned to the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) perform evening colors on the ship's fantail while moored in San Francisco Bay. US Navy Photo

ailors assigned to the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) perform evening colors on the ship’s fantail while moored in San Francisco Bay. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) — the first in a new class of aviation centric amphibious warships — will commission on Saturday in San Francisco, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy.

The 45,000-ton ship, and its crew of 1,200 sailors, is equipped to transport 1,900 Marines and their aircraft as part of a three ship Amphibious Ready Group with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU).

The ship arrived in San Francisco on Oct. 7 as part of the city’s Fleet Week.

“This ship, forged in America, with components and systems manufactured all across America, shall remind us of the long and historic links between our communities and our Navy and Marine Corps,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a Friday statement. “Having a ship named America, sailing the world’s oceans, always present in defense of our freedoms and ready to respond is yet another extension of our American spirit.”

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

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

The ship was designed without a well-deck — a feature that allows amphibious to deploy landing craft— to allow space to support the Navy and Marines aviation detachment and the eventual inclusion of the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Follow on ship, Tripoli (LHA-7), will be built without a welldeck while the yet unnamed LHA-8 will be redesigned to include the capability.

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.

The ship will be based at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

  • Bobby Wheeler

    God Bless America , Both the Ship and the Nation. May thier strengths carry us through the pitfalls and the storms of the future.
    –An Old Sailor

  • Secundius

    I know of only know of one variant of the Lockheed-Martin F/AV-35B Lightning II. So what other variant of F/AV-35B model is there???

    • Diogenes

      Hey Secundius… you remember that “list” you once mentioned for commentators that annoy USNI… I just made it for the first time.

      • Secundius

        Congratulations!!! What did you do to PISS-THEM OFF???

        • Diogenes

          I cited an article critical of the America… which indicated its inability to safely operate either the F-35 or the Osprey… as if nobody knew both A/C capable of warping deck plates.

          • Secundius

            @ Diogenes.

            They should have called her the USS Amphibious Oddity. I don’t know why this vessel is called an Amphibious Assault Ship, considering there’s NO WELL DECK. Too conduct Amphibious Operations, If the Marines go ashore. There either going to have to SWIM or go by AIR TAXI. I mean, no Amphibious capabilities of any kind. No LCAC, no Landing Crafts, Not even that Landing Craft “Brick” of their’s, NOTHING!!!

          • Diogenes

            Maybe someone realized Marines storming ashore in today’s hostile environment against a modern, capable foe is a fool’s errand. Either that or the US is destined to fight only Third World targets of opportunity. Don’t need a well deck to do over the horizon vertical envelopment… although a great deal of luck and an F-35 that can operate off that class of ships might help keep the Ospreys from getting creamed the first time they show up in hostile airspace. I wonder who is going to replenish and supply those Marines once they arrive except by using the ships the America is supposed to be replacing? Someone mentioned recommissioning some of our conventional boneyard aviation queens and using them. At least they can carry enough men, arms, and aircraft to sustain a modest force until the cavalry arrived… assuming they get something aboard that actually flies and fights. Bottom line, technology has doomed the carrier concept unless the US is prepared to create fleets like it had in WWII to protect them and that isn’t too likely. I see small, fast, stealthy (?) mini-carriers with barebones crews and bomb laden RPVs looming just over the horizon. RPVs are capable and insanely brave.

          • Secundius

            @ Diogenes.

            If you going to all the trouble of building a Mini/Light Aircraft Carrier, Build one on the R 11, Principe de Asturias (SCS-75) from Spain. After all its an American design, its Lighter and Faster, and carries ~30-aircrafts. With a small Ship’s Crew of ~555 supernumeraries and Air Crew of ~252 supernumeraries. I mean, 45,000-tons, is a little heavy for a Mini-Aircraft Carrier.

          • Diogenes

            Point taken.

          • old guy

            Right on. Please see my comments on the 16,000 ton “Principe” and “Grupe de Combate, Primero” elsewhere.

          • old guy

            In 1976 we had a design for a ship to deliver and operate LCACs and larger hovercraft. It looked liked a carrier with a low, 30′ deck height, 55′ draft and drooped bow and stern. It could carry 7 LCACs and many of the troops for a landing. It could support Pre-Pos ships and troop transports. with a continuous flow of LCACs, Up the bow and down the stern ramps, while UNDERWAY. It fell victim to the “it don’t look right” flags.

          • Secundius

            @ Diogenes.

            Yeah, I read an article about that some month ago. Seems like some bright genius, got the bright idea about blowing the A/C air through the Flight Deck Plating. To give the F/AV-35B’s and MV-22B/C’s extra lift at take-off’s. Apparently, the “Wiley Coyote’s” in the group, didn’t bother to think that one through all-the-way. They should have just put on a Ski Ramp, like all the other MODERN Navies have!!!

  • Diogenes

    Hmm… just was whacked for introducing hyperlink to story critical of this vessel. Thought police are everywhere.

  • farquhar1623

    America should have been a nuclear aircraft carrier! This one will have to do until we get one.

  • Dan Tootle

    The Pentagon and the Navy continues is record of sending to sea a grey-painted compromise of a ship. The last “USS America (CVA/CV-66)” sailed for many years with a Terrier SAM battery that could not be used due to mutually exclusive aircraft and SAM operations, and a SQS-23 bow-mounted sonar that was inoperative any time the ship was above 15 knots speed (which was almost any time she was launching and recovering aircraft). Both were removed in the 1980 ROH and she then was able to operate like all other of our aircraft carriers. Now we have the new USS America LPH-6 that the Marine Corps does not want without a well-deck for amphibious vehicles. So like the America and the USS Constellation CVA/CV-64, we have another two-ship class that will stand alone as a comprised fleet-unit. The real shame of this situation is the Pentagon’s and the Navy’s failure to place the nation’s name on the hull of a new aircraft carrier instead of “honoring” political leaders with that ship naming nonsense.

    • Secundius

      @ Dan Tootle.

      The “Terrier” Missile system, was replaced by the RIM-67 Standard SM-1ER.

      • Dan Tootle

        As well as the Phalanx CIWS system (3 mounts). The RIM-67 SM-1ER was installed as two mounts, one on the starboard side forward, and one on the port quarter aft. These were better ship’s defense systems but the airwing always objected to any use of the CIWS as it spewed the plastic sabot pieces everywhere over the flight deck and even over the island structure. Also big fears that never went away that the CIWS would detect helicopter blades as incoming threats and fire on the starboard delta rescue helicopter.

  • roy

    I wish they would have commisioned it in it’s home port of San Diego…

  • Bhess

    Not a fan of the carrier naming standard now. I really liked the battlefield naming system. Naming this ship USS America seems out of place.

  • Rob C.

    Glad their getting the ship commissioned finally, I hope it useful as they hope it would be. They’ll need get back to the welldeck designs, since that’s what LHALHDs are meant to be doing.

  • Secundius

    According to AW&ST, 20 October 2014 edition. US. Army and US. Navy plan to deploy Boeing AH-64D/E Long Bow Apache’s on some of their larger Gator-Freighters. (Wasp & America classes)

  • Ed L

    Darn big ship, bigger than the Interpid and almost twice as heavy. looks and smells like a Aircraft Carrier to me. No Naval cannon, either. Which the Tarawa class (3 127MM LWG) had but were removed in the 90’s. What is the deal with these big warships. Why can’t they build a bunch of 300 to 600 foot diesel power 20 knot gator ships that can carry the Marines and all the equipment. Arming them, with 76 or 127MM LWG, RAM, small ASM’s, active ESM, limited ASW ability like dipping helo’s and Armed RPV for recco and attack .