The second America-class amphibious warship entered the U.S. Navy fleet in an administrative action on Wednesday, without the pomp and circumstance of a commissioning ceremony.
USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which delivered to the Navy in February, will continue to prepare to transit to its new homeport at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., later this year.
“Due to public health and safety restrictions on large public gatherings, the Navy commissioned the USS Tripoli administratively and the ship transitioned to normal operations,” the Office of the Secretary of Defense said in a statement.
Named for the 1805 Battle of Derna and crewed by 1,000 sailors, Tripoli eschews the well deck of the previous class of Wasp-class design in favor of an aviation-enhanced design. As with lead ship USS America (LHA-6), Tripoli has larger aviation maintenance spaces to accommodate the MV-22B Osprey and F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter, increased jet fuel stores and more to support the Marines’ latest and greatest aircraft types.
“Being the third ship to bear the Tripoli namesake is a profound honor, and this crew stands ready to carry on the legacy of our longstanding Navy and Marine Corps amphibious community,” ship commander Capt. Kevin Myers said in the OSD statement.
“These sailors and Marines will pave the way for those still to come. What’s remarkable is seeing the dedication, perseverance and resilience these new plank owners have shown since day one, and more recently, through uncertain times as the Navy and nation work through a pandemic.”
Tripoli will be able to field F-35Bs on its first deployment, thanks to both the design and some upgrades that were made during and after the ship construction process, such as improved communications and flight deck strengthening to support the heat coming from the jet during its vertical landings. America too can operate the F-35B now, but some of the modifications were made in a maintenance availability after it left the Ingalls Shipbuilding construction yard.
“The ship is the first LHA replacement ship to depart the shipyard ready to integrate the entire future air combat element of the Marine Corps, to include the Joint Strike Fighter,” reads the OSD statement.
“Tripoli’s design features an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.”
The 45,000-ton warship also fields a hybrid propulsion that uses electric motors to drive the ship when traveling under 12 knots. That propulsion system was first introduced in the last Wasp-class ship, USS Makin Island (LHD-8).
Tripoli was slated to be delivered and commissioned in 2019, but the delivery was delayed due to technical concerns, according to Mike Petters, chief executive of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII).
“The systems are working today. It’s just a question of whether they will work for the life of the ship,” Petters said in an earnings call last year. HII did not specify the nature of technical issues.
Tripoli is the first capital ship to commission into the service since the commissioning of USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) in 2017, which was a major event for the Navy that featured a remarks from President Donald Trump.
“The Navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the USS Tripoli’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee,” reads the OSD statement.
The ship will be the last in the class to be built without a well deck. As part of a redesign of the America class, the next ship, Bougainville (LHA-8), will include the well deck and capability to launch surface connectors to bring Marines ashore.