USS America Back to Sea After Completing 10-Months of Deck Strengthening for F-35s

March 22, 2016 6:00 PM
USS America (LHA-6) is underway off the coast of San Diego in 2015. US Navy Photo
USS America (LHA-6) is underway off the coast of San Diego in 2015. US Navy Photo

The amphibious warship USS America (LHA-6) headed out to sea on Monday after completing ten-month maintenance period that included strengthening its deck to accommodate Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters.

The ship left its homeport in San Diego for additional testing off the coast of Southern California, according to the service.

The aviation-centric big deck was commissioned in late 2014 but required additional work to take the day-to-day strain of operating the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) strike fighters that will operate from the ship.

The $3 billion, 44,850-ton ship is the first of two America-class amphibious ships that have been built without a well deck to emphasize support for aviation assets like the F-35 and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor.

The follow-on Tripoli (LHA-7) will undergo a similar – but shorter — maintenance availability following delivery to accommodate the F-35s which some of the deck strengthening work already underway at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

The third ship in the class – the unnamed LHA-8 – will be built with the stronger deck in production and will include a well deck to allow the ship to deploy amphibious landing craft in the same way as traditional big-deck amphibs.

The contract for LHA-8 will be built at Ingalls or General Dyanmics NASSCO in San Diego as part of a contracting deal in which one yard will build the amphib and the other yard will build six John Lewis-class (T-AO-205) fleet oilers – formerly known as TAO(X).

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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