Skip to comments.America Sets Sail: New Amphib, LHA-6, Leaves Shipyard
Posted on 07/12/2014 6:41:37 PM PDT by Lower Deck
After five years in the shipyard, the first of a new class of Navy amphibious warship set sail today from its Pascagoula, Miss. birthsite for San Francisco, headed for the fleet. LHA-6 will be commissioned as the USS America this October.
America has been controversial in the military and on this website. Ive argued the LHA-6 is a dead end in naval design, because in order to carry more aircraft MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jump-jets it sacrifices the well deck required to launch landing craft and amtracs, which sort of takes the amphibious out of amphibious warship. Regular contributor and recognized expert Robbin Laird has argued that the classs increased airpower is well worth the trade-off and makes it invaluable for missions like 2011′s raids on Libya, which were launched by amphibs in absence of a full-sized aircraft carrier.
Whos right? Maybe both of us. The Navy is building only one more ship to the exact LHA-6 design, the still-under-construction USS Tripoli (price: $2.4 billion). After that, theyre putting back the well deck but theyre incorporating other features from the America design to increase the capacity for aircraft, too.
Regardless, the America remains an impressive feat of engineering and an important addition to the Navy-Marine Corps amphibious fleet, a unique and sometimes underappreciated national asset. So, as an antidote to all the airplane porn pouring out of the Farnborough International Airshow, we thought wed greet the weekend with some ship pics of LHA-6 leaving its shipyard home for the wider world. Photos are all courtesy of Americas manufacturer, leading amphib builder Huntington-Ingalls Industries.
Isn’t that taking “green” a bit too far?
It is an old nautical term that is still being used despite the fact that most ships no longer have sail.
I know. Was being facetious.
It sounds this class is more a WW II era escort carrier or the now defunct British Invicible pocket aircraft carrier, from the Falklands War, than an amphibious assault ship.
Let us just call them Junior Carriers.
"The Light Carriers are not Sheriffs (Carrier Strike Groups), their deputies."
Actually closer in length and beam to a WWII fleet carrier of the Essex class, but with almost twice the displacement.
Essex: (CV-9, dp. 27,100; l. 872'; b. 93'; ew. 147'6"; dr. 28'7"; s. 33 k.; cpl. 3,448; a. 12 5"; cl. Essex)
America: dp 45,693; l. 844' b. 106'; dr. 26' s. 22k cpl 65 officers, 994 enlisted 1,687 marines. a. 2× Rolling Airframe, 2× Evolved Sea Sparrow launchers;
deputies - good one
with no launch well,in essence, it’s a baby flat top (ala WW2) ?
So basically, this is a large size Iwo Jima class helicopter carrier. Also, I guess they finally decided to scrap the last Tripoli LPH 10.
Displacement: 45,000 t
Length: 844 feet (257.3 meters)
Beam: 106 feet (32.3 meters)
Speed: 24 knots
- 2 x GE LM 2500+ gas turbines
- 2 x shafts
Crew: - 1060 crew
- 1700 Troops
- 10 F-35B JSF
- 12 MV-22 OspreyVTOL Assault Aircraft
- 04 CH-53E Super Stallion Assault Helos
- 04 MH-60S Nighthawk
- 08 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helos
Aircraft (Sea Control):
- 22 F-35B JSF
- 04 MH-60 SeaHawk
- 04 Other helo/vtol
- 2 x RAM (42 missiles)
- 2 x ESSM (16 missiles)
- 2 x 20mm CIWS
- 3 × 25 mm Mk 38 cannons
- 6 x .50 cal MGs
Ships in class: 2
LHA(R)-6 USS America (Launched)
LHA(R)-7 USS Tripoli (Building)
The USS America, LHA-6 was launched on June 5, 2012. She completed outfitting in Septemebr 2013, and then successfully completed builder’s sea trials in November 2013. In late 2013, she was handed over to the U.S. Navy for for trials and commissioning by 2015.
The LHA(R) America Class are the largest amphibious assault vessels ever built. Displacing over 45,000 tons each when fully loaded, the vessels are larger than most other nations aircraft carriers, which they closely resemble. These amphibious warships are uniquely designed to support the US Marines Aviation Combat Element (ACE) philosophy including assault from the sea against defended positions ashore and Sea Control Air operations using enhanced numbers of strike fighters.
The America Class LHA(R) will replace the LHA 1, Tarawa class of amphibious assault ships, and will have the flexibility to operate in the traditional role as the flagship for an Expeditionary Strike Group as well as potentially playing a key role in the maritime pre-positioning force of the future(MPFF).
Air Assault and Sea Control Optimized:
The LHA(R) will be U.S. Navy’s newest multifunctional and most versatile, amphibious assault ship and has been specifically optimized for aircraft, particulalry the MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft and the new J-35B VTOL Strike fighter. The current plan is for the first two America class to provide this increased aviation capability, vehicle lift, cargo magazine capacity, better survivability, increased habitability standards and greater service life margins. As such the design includes enlarged hangar facilities to house more aircraft below decks and to more fully service them. There will be no well deck on these first two vessels in cLAss, so no amphibious assault by sea is supported directly from the first two LHA(R) class vessels using LCACs or LCUs.
The air assault role is optimized for conducting larger air assault operations from much further out, allowing troops to arrive on scene more quickly and the LHA(R) to be better protected from its station further out to sea. In the air assault role, a typical air wing of the America and her sister ACE vessel would be as followd:
- Air Assault Aiw Wing
- 10 F-35B JSF Strike Fighters
- 12 MV-22 Osprey VTOL Tilt-Rotor Assault Aircraft
- 08 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters
- 04 CH-53E Super Stallion Assault Helicopters
- 04 MH-60S Seahawk SAR Helicopters.
The America also has the capability and is designed to function as a “Sea Control: aircraft carrier, conducting sea lane protection, area denial, and war at sea function. In this role her typical air wing would include:
- Sea ControlAiw Wing
- 22 F-35B JSF Strike Fighters
- 06 MH-60R Seahawk ASW Helicopters
In addition, as an ACE optimized vessel and number of Aviation Combat Element (ACE) configurations are possible, varying the amount F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL aircraft; MV-22 Osprey VTOL tiltrotors; CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; UH-1Y Huey helicopters; AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters; MH-60S Seahawk helicoptersare also supportable depending on the specific mission requirements.
Three traditional LHA vesse4ls to follow:
The following three America Clas vessels however, are currently planned to have a well deck similar to those found in the WASP Class LHD Vessels, only somehat smaller, holding only two LCACs instead of three. In this role, those vessel will support more traditional amphibious assault operations, as well as air assault operations. A typicl air wing in the Amphibious Assault role for the follow on three vessels would be very similar to the Wasp class, particularly LHD-8, USS Makin Ilsanld which they will resemble very closely.:
- Amphibious Assault Aiw Wing
- 12 MV-22 Osprey VTOL Tilt-Rotor Assault Aircraft
- 08 CH-53E Super Stallion Assault Helicopters
- 06 F-35B JSF Strike Fighters
- 04 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters
- 04 MH-60S Seahawk SAR Helicopters.
All of the vessels will be capable of embarking 1,670 US Marines and the equipment to support them, the America class carries all of the equipement necessary to provide air assault or amphibious assault (depneding on the variety of vessel) on the objectives of those marines, while giving them the logistical, command and control, close-air support (through its embarked wing of VSTOL fighter bombers), and the hospital support they require while doing so.
Network Centric Cooperative Engagement:
The America class will also use a fiber optic network and employ the more capable SPQ-9B radar and the US Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC).
The USS Valley Forge, CV-45 was an Essex class carrier launched in July, 1945 and later converted to the LPH-8.
I served on her for a short while as part of BLT 3/26 (USMC Battalion Landing Team - 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines) off the coast of Vietnam in 1969.
She didn't have a well deck, either.
Actually this is a good move. The LPDs can carry the Amtracks; which is really an outdated and expensive tool for amphibious landings.
A few more pics:
That second one show clearly that the America has no well deck. Allows a lot more room for aviation. She will perform extremely well for air assault, but no LCACs. She will also allow for a LOT more F-35B fighters to operate off of her deck.
I like the last one there, showing the San Antonio Class LPD in the background.
Amost 20 years ago.
If they're already up to 'Z' then what do they designate the next model? Z2? ZA?