USS Amercia

The US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) has received an upgraded flight deck, with a thermal spray coating to support the F-35 joint strike fighters (JSF) during future operations.

The upgrade has been carried out as part of its post-shakedown availability period (PSA), which also includes improvements to the ship’s design.

USS America commanding officer captain Michael W Baze said: "When this ship was built, Joint Strike Fighter testing was underway, most recently on the USS Wasp, based on the East Coast at the time.

"The lessons learned during the Wasp testing periods are being incorporated into the USS America’s design."

"The lessons learned during the Wasp testing periods, lessons about the long-term sustainability of our ship flight decks during JSF operations as compared with the legacy AV-8B Harrier, are being incorporated into America’s design.

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"These changes will become a part of subsequent landing helicopter assault (LHA) / landing helicopter docks (LHDs) moving forward, for example our follow-on LHA ship the Tripoli; currently in construction."

The new thermal coatings will allow the ships of the class to handle the new JSF’s thrust and reduce heat sent to decks below.

Moored at Naval Base San Diego, America’s PSA is scheduled to run until early next year.

The 844ft-long ship has been designed to support a variety of missions, including humanitarian, disaster relief, maritime security, anti-piracy and other operations, while providing air support for ground forces.

The LHA 6 is optimised for US Marine Corps aviation, uses a gas-turbine propulsion system to cruise at a speed in excess of 20k, and can carry a crew of 1,059 (65 officers) and 1,687 troops.

Image: An aerial view of the USS America. Photo: courtesy of Phil Konstantin.