US Navy to christen USS America on 20 October


America-class assault ship

The US Navy is set to christen the America-class large-deck amphibious assault ship, USS America (LHA 6), at the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on 20 October.

Navy secretary Ray Mabus said: "The LHA 6 will inherit and continue the proud tradition of distinguished service that has long been associated with ships bearing the name America."

The 844ft-long and 106ft beam USS America will have a displacement capacity of 44,971t and will replace the Tawara-class of amphibious assault ships.

"For decades to come, the America-class will give sailors andmarines highly capable, flexible and advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations," Mabus added.

"For decades to come, the America-class will give sailors andmarines highly capable, flexible and advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations."

Powered by a fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion system, the 44,971t vessel can accommodate the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, cargo and attack helicopters, the Boeing AV-8B Harrier aircraft and the Lockheed Martin short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft.

Designed to provide power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces, the LHA 6 will support a range of missions such as embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force.

Capable of carrying a crew of 1,059, America-class ships will be armed with two rolling airframe missile launchers and two evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) launchers, as well as seven twin .50-calibre Browning machine guns and two 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS).

Ported in San Diego, the USS America keel was laid in July 2009 and is currently under construction at HII's facility; it is scheduled for delivery to the US Navy in late 2013.


Image: US Navy's America-class assault ships will be armed with Sea Sparrow missile. Photo: courtesy of mass communication specialist 3rd class Sarah E Bitter, US Navy.