The USS America, a new amphibious assault ship that looks like a small aircraft carrier, is on track to be formally placed into active service during an Oct. 11 commissioning ceremony in San Francisco, according to the Navy.
The America’s flight deck is designed to support a wide range of Marine Corps aircraft, including attack, transport and utility helicopters; the new MV-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft; and the future F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing fighter jet. The ship will also be able to transport up to 1,800 troops and their equipment.
Designated the LHA 6, the 844-foot-long ship was made by Huntington Ingalls Industries. The company is building a second America-class ship, the USS Tripoli or LHA 7, under a $2.38 billion contract it received from the Navy in 2012. America-class ships take about five years to construct and will replace the aging Tarawa-class of amphibious assault ships, four which are already retired.
The LHA 6 is currently making its maiden voyage from Pascagoula, Miss., where it was built, to its homeport in San Diego. On Aug. 19, it received a visit from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus as it sailed through the Strait of Magellan in southern South America. It has made stops in Brazil, Colombia and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of its “America visits the Americas” goodwill tour. Stops in Chile and Peru are also planned.