The shipbuilding division of US-based military vessel developer Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has announced the launch of the amphibious transport dock Richard M McCool Jr (LPD 29).

Launched on 7 January, Richard M McCool Jr is the 13th landing platform dock (LPD) in the San Antonio class of amphibious assault force ships.

Over the next 30 years, the vessel will support the US Navy in amphibious assault, special operations and other expeditionary warfare missions.

HII Ingalls Shipbuilding division president Kari Wilkinson said: “The LPD class ships, like all of our programmes, are critically important to US national security.

“In addition, thousands of Americans, from engineers to electricians, have worked on LPD 29 over the years.

“Ingalls Shipbuilding is proud to build them and even more proud of the talented people that make up our shipbuilding team.”

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The LPD 29 was launched from the floating dry dock on 5 January using tugs, having first been translated through Ingalls’ rail car system.

The vessel was subsequently moved away from the pier and ballasted to float off.

HII said the launch is the first in a series of significant milestone events in bringing the LPD to life.

Richard M McCool Jr is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy next year.

San Antonio class ships are mainly used to embark and land US Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs).

The vessels each measure 684ft in length and 105ft in width and can displace 25,000t.

During operations, they are supported by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.

HII provides mission-driven solutions designed to support and enable a connected, integrated full-spectrum force.

Based in Newport News, Virginia, the company employs 44,000 people.