The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the amphibious assault ship, the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) was held at the Huntington Ingalls Industries Pascagoula shipyard June 20.
Ship Sponsor Mrs. Lynne Mabus and retired Lt. Cmdr. Steve Senk, the chief engineer of the previous Tripoli (ex-USS Tripoli, LPH 10) served as the keel authenticators. The laying of the keel traditionally marked the first step in ship construction. With today’s advanced modular shipbuilding, the keel laying ceremony now recognizes the joining together of a ship’s components and is a major milestone in the ship’s construction. Fabrication of Tripoli started in July 2013.
Capt. Christopher Mercer, Amphibious Warfare Program Manager within Program Executive Office, Ships said: “This keel laying ceremony marks a significant first step in bringing shape to the Navy’s next amphibious assault ship.”
Like the recently delivered America (LHA 6), LHA 7 incorporates key components to provide the fleet with a more aviation centric platform. The design of the future Tripoli features an 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 will also be the first LHA replacement ship to deliver fully ready to integrate the entire future air combat element of the Marine Corps to include the Joint Strike Fighter.
“Like America, Tripoli boasts a very credible and capable aviation centric design that replaces the Tarawa class of amphibious assault ships,” said Mercer. “The design brings with it increased capabilities and will maximize the Navy’s investment in future aircraft.”
Along with its pioneering aviation element, LHA 7 incorporates the fuel efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution, and electric auxiliary systems first installed on USS Makin Island (LHD 8). LHA 7 will be 844 feet in length, will have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons, and will be capable of operating at speeds of over 20 knots.
LHA 7 is the third Navy ship to be named Tripoli. The name honors and commemorates the force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nationalities who captured the city of Derna, Libya during the 1805 Battle of Derna.
Press Release, June 23, 2014; Image: US Navy