Amphibious Warship USS Wasp May Deploy Late

April 8, 2024 7:07 PM
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), lands aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1) while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, April 6, 2024. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Another one of the Navy’s big-deck amphibious warships could deploy late, as the service faces maintenance backlogs for the amphibious fleet.

Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1), which is currently in the middle of workups ahead of deployment, may leave later than expected, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said on Monday.

“Right now we’re seeing some potential delays on Wasp – we’re trying to look ahead to make sure that we can, I want to say nip this in the bud, really understand how can we approve that,” Franchetti told reporters at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space symposium.

Wasp, the service’s oldest big deck, left Norfolk, Va., on Saturday and is currently at sea off the coast of Virginia for workups, according to USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker.

A potential delay for Wasp comes after USS Boxer (LHD-4) departed San Diego, Calif., last week late for a delayed deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Boxer, the capital ship in the Amphibious Ready Group, left three months after USS Somerset (LPD-25) and almost one month after USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49), the other two ships in the formation.

Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Garrett Legan, assigned to Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares for fast-rope training aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) during Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH in Visakhapatnam, India, March 20, 2024. US Marine Corps Photo

To get a better handle on the problems with the amphibious fleet, Franchetti said she and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith recently directed the Navy’s deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and policy and the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations to assess amphibious ship readiness and see whether the services are aligned on the requirements for training and certifications.

“Overall, we’re going to learn a lot through this deep dive and we can really understand what are the challenges with amphib readiness,” Franchetti said. “This is a proactive approach.”

The CNO said she expects the three stars to report the “terms of reference” in May so the services can determine next steps for the evaluation.

Franchetti noted that the ships in the amphibious fleet are getting older and having to go through the modifications to accommodate the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II. Boxer went out for sea trials in June of 2022 after getting the F-35B upgrades.

Wasp was one of the first amphibious ships to get the F-35B upgrades nearly a decade ago. After a brief time forward-deployed in Japan, Wasp came back to Virginia and went into the dry dock at BAE Systems for a maintenance availability. In July of 2022, Wasp went back to Norfolk Naval Station after the maintenance overhaul and has been periodically underway off the Atlantic coast.

Boxer was the subject of two publicized command investigations last year that discovered problems in the ship’s engineering department. While it’s not clear whether the engineering issues led to the ship’s late deployment, two defense officials told USNI News that Boxer‘s material condition is one reason the ship left late and the ships in the ARG deployment separately.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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