Ingalls Shipbuilding has cut steel on the fourth America-class big-deck amphibious warship at its Mississippi shipyard, the company announced on Tuesday.
The shipyard has cut 100 tons of steel for the future USS Fallujah (LHA-9) after completing a final Navy production review.
Fallujah “will be the second Flight I ship and will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck and a larger flight deck configured for F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey aircraft. It will also provide additional cargo stowage capacities and enable a broader, more flexible command and control capability,” reads a Tuesday statement from Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy awarded Ingalls a $2.4 billion construction contract for the ship in October.
USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the first two ships of the class, were built without well decks and are optimized for aviation. Tripoli tested out the “lightning carrier” embarked with more than a dozen Marine F-35Bs during its most recent deployment.
“The start of fabrication on Fallujah is a significant milestone in the construction of this large-deck amphibious ship and demonstrates our ability to maintain a sustained LHA production line at Ingalls,” Ingalls Shipbuilding LHA program manager Eugene Miller said in a Tuesday HII statement.
Start of fabrication follows Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro’s announcement of the name of the ship after the two 2004 Battles of Fallujah.
Ingalls is currently building the big deck Bougainville (LHA-8), destroyers the future Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), Ted Stevens (DDG-128), Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129), George M. McNeal (DDG-131) and Sam Nunn (DDG-133). The yard is also building the San Antonio-class amphibs Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29), Harrisburg (LPD-30) and Pittsburgh (LPD-31).