The US Navy is set to christen the tenth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship on 21 March at the Huntington Ingalls Industries' (HII) shipbuilding division visitor control centre.
The ship is being named in honour of late John P Murtha, who represented Pennsylvania's twelfth congressional district from 1974 to 2010.
Having served in the Marine Corps for 37 years, Murtha saw service in the Korean War and in Vietnam, and earned the Bronze Star with Valor device, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Launched on 30 October 2014, the LPD 26 is scheduled for delivery to the navy in 2016 and will join the first nine ships of the San Antonio-class.
USS Portland (LPD 27), the final ship of the current San Antonio-class, was keel laid in August 2013 and is currently under construction at HII.
Designed to serve as a key element of the navy's sea base transformation, the LPDs are being developed to enable deployment of the combat and support elements of marine expeditionary units and brigades.
Featuring a flight deck and hangar which can operate CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22), the LPD 26 will be equipped with a well deck capable of embarking and debarking landing crafts, air cushion, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), to deliver marines ashore.
The 684ft-long San Antonio-class ships have a displacement capacity of 25,000t and more than 23,000ft2 of vehicle storage, capable of transporting a landing force of up to 800 marines and their equipment.
The 11 ships will functionally replace more than 41 ships across four classes, providing the navy and marine corps with modern, sea-based platforms.
Image: John P Murtha (LPD 26) will be similar to the Ingalls-built USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). Photo: courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries.