The Navy will christen the amphibious assault ship, America (LHA 6), on Oct. 20, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Mrs. Lynne Pace, wife of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, will serve as the ship’s sponsor.
From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, three warships have sailed with the name America. The first America was a 74-gun ship-of-the-line built for use by the Continental Navy and then presented to the king of France as a gift to show appreciation for his country’s service to the new nation. The second America transported troops during World War I. The third ship to bear the name was a Kitty-Hawk class aircraft carrier that supported operations from the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm. America will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.
“The LHA 6 will inherit and continue the proud tradition of distinguished service that has long been associated with ships bearing the name America,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “For decades to come, the America Class will give sailors and Marines highly capable, flexible and advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations.”
The future USS America will be the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation “big-deck” amphibious ship, LHA 6 will be optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and Joint Strike Fighter. The LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution system, and electric auxiliary system built for USS Makin Island (LHD 8). This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed for fuel efficiency.
The LHA 6 will provide a flexible, multi-mission platform with capabilities that span the range of military operations — from forward deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations. The ship also will provide forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces.
The America will operate for sustained periods in transit to, and operations, in an amphibious objective area to include: embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force, and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B.
Although the America will not include a well deck, the ship includes additional aviation spaces and will have an increased aviation capacity: 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 ship’s keel was laid July 17, 2009, and the shipbuilder plans to deliver the America in late 2013. The USS America will be homeported in San Diego.
Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship will be 844 feet in length, with a 106-foot beam, and have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons.
Naval Today Staff,October 18, 2012; Image: US Navy