The LHA Replacement, or LHA(R), class ships are the next step in the incremental development of the amphibious assault ship and will replace the Tarawa class.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (June 5, 2012) Tugboats guide the amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) America (LHA 6) to her berthing place at Ingalls Shipbuilding. America was christened Oct. 20, 2012 (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ingalls Shipbuilding/Released)
As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, LHA (R) class ships are a modified repeat of the Wasp (LHD) class; optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV 22 and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The future USS America (LHA 6) is the lead ship of the class and benefits from lessons learned of the recently commissioned LHD 8.
America class ships will facilitate forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency, and multinational maritime expeditionary forces, supporting the Marine Corps tenets of Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) and Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM). These ships will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems designed and built for the recently delivered USS Makin Island (LHD 8), replacing the maintenance intensive steam turbines of earlier ships.
This unique auxiliary propulsion system (APS) was designed for fuel efficiency. Instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid. By using the proven auxiliary propulsion system used by LHD 8, PEO Ships is avoiding design and development costs that are often associated with a new ship class.
The first of two planned Flight 0 ships, LHA 6 is 844 feet in length, with an impressive displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons. LHA 6 features several aviation capabilities enhanced beyond previous amphibious assault ships. The aviation-centric design removes the traditional well-deck to include space for 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 keel authentication ceremony for LHA 6 was held July 17, 2009, at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. PCU America was christened on October 20, 2012, and is expected to deliver to the Navy in 2013.
The Navy awarded a contract for detail design and construction for the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) to HII on May 31, 2012. As a repeat design configuration, LHA 7 starts with a very mature and stable design. The ship is expected to start fabrication in 2013, and deliver in 2017.
LHA 8 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability. Preliminary design has begun for LHA 8.