Over at military.com, Kris Osborne reports that the assembly of the second America-class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, is going according to plan, with a third of initial construction already complete.
The ship “is approximately 30% complete. Fabrication has started on 211 units, 97% of all units, and 84 grand blocks are erected — 47% of the total,” according to a U.S. Navy spokesperson who provided Osborne with a written statement.
Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.
The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.
“The ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA[Landing Helicopter Assault] 6 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability,” the U.S. Navy’s website notes about the USS Tripoli’s sister ship, the USS America.
While the basic characteristics of the will remain the same, the new ship of the class will display some improvements in comparison to its predecessor commissioned in October 2014.
“The Navy and Ingalls have identified lessons learned from design and construction of LHA 6 for incorporation into design and construction of LHA 7 to improve production and quality. These lessons learned were addressed at Unit Readiness Reviews prior to the start of fabrication of each unit, for incorporation into the LHA 7 build strategy,” U.S. Navy spokesman Mathew Leonard told military.com.
“LHA 7 is being built as a repeat of the LHA 6 with very limited changes to the design. After delivery of LHA 6, a group of significant changes to the ship’s flight deck structure and equipment were necessary to accommodate the F-35B aircraft. These improvements are being incorporated into the basic build of LHA 7, which is expected to yield a better overall technical solution at reduced cost,” Leonard added.
According to the U.S. Navy’s website, the USS Tripoli will “transport and land elements of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) or Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) with a combination of aircraft and landing craft.” All in all, the ship will be able to carry 1,871 troops next to a crew of 1,204.
U.S. Navy officials state that the ship’s defenses are more geared towards repelling anti-ship missile attacks rather than fast-attack crafts. “America-class ships are outfitted with a group of technologies called a Ship Self Defense System. This includes two Rolling Aircraft Missile RIM-116 Mk 49 l launchers; two Raytheon 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; and seven twin .50 cal. machine guns,” according to the military.com report.