Huntington Ingalls Industries has laid the keel for the US Navy's America-class multipurpose amphibious assault vessel USS Tripoli (LHA 7) at the Pascagoula shipyard, US.
USS Tripoli, which is 844ft long and 106ft wide, is the navy's second next-generation amphibious assault ship, and will replace the ageing Tarawa-class vessels.
Currently under construction at the Ingalls Shipbuilding unit, it offers new capabilities in both amphibious assault and aviation support.
It is capable of carrying a marine expeditionary unit, in addition to marine helicopters, Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II joint-strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.
Powered by a gas-turbine propulsion system, the vessel can cruise at a maximum speed of 20k, and can accommodate a crew of 1,059 (65 officers) and 1,687 troops.
US Navy Ships Programme Executive Office Amphibious Warfare programme manager captain Christopher Mercer said Tripoli boasts a capable aviation-centric design.
"The design brings with it increased capabilities and will maximise the navy's investment in future aircraft," Mercer said.
The design will include space for an expanded hangar deck with bigger aviation parts, stowage capacity, expanded aviation maintenance facilities and better aviation fuel capacity.
Upon its delivery, USS Tripoli will be deployed to support a range of missions, such as humanitarian, disaster relief, maritime security, antipiracy and air support for ground forces.
The US Navy took delivery of the first America-class vessel USS America (LHA 6) in May. It is scheduled for commissioning later this year in San Francisco.
Image: An artistic depiction of the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7). Photo: courtesy of the US Navy, photo illustration / Released.