SECNAV Del Toro Names Next Big Deck Amphib USS Helmand Province

May 2, 2024 9:39 AM
Bougainville (LHA-8) at Ingalls Shipbuilding launched on Sept. 30, 2023. USNI News Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­– Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has named the next America-class big deck amphibious warship after the Helmand province campaign in Afghanistan.
“In keeping with naval tradition of naming our Navy’s amphibious assault ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles,” he said during a keynote at the Modern Day Marine conference on Thursday.
“I am honored to announce today that the future LHA-10 will be named USS Helmand Province, recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of our Marines and Sailors who fought for almost 20 years in the mountains of Afghanistan.”

Following Del Toro’s announcement, Marine commandant Gen. Eric Smith spoke on his experience as the commander of Regimental Combat Team 8 who fought in Helmand in 2011.

“Helmand province holds a unique place in the hearts of this generation of Marines,” Smith said.
“From 2009 to 2014 this region was the center of efforts to give stability and security to a troubled land. Helmand province as many of you know, it was not just any theater of war. It was the heart of the opium trade, a Taliban stronghold, and the terrain is rugged and formidable as any. And yet, that our Marines and sailors and allies and partners showed what it means to be the tip of the spear.”

Del Toro named Smith’s wife Trish Smith as Helmand Province’s sponsor.

In 2022, Del Toro named LHA-9 after the first and second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. In November, the Navy awarded a $130 million advanced procurement contract award to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi.

The 45,000-ton ship will be the third Flight I America-class ship following Bougainville (LHA-8) and Fallujah.

The Flight Is will have a well deck capable of carrying two Landing Craft Air Cushion hovercraft. The first two Americas ­– USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) – were built without well decks and oriented around Marine Corps aviation assets like the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter and the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor.

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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