Navy Bringing Well Decks Back to Amphibs | DoD Buzz

The Navy has begun early design work, affordability studies and planning with industry partners for its third big-deck America-Class Amphibious Assault Ship, or LHA 8, slated to enter service in 2024, service officials said Jan. 15 at the Surface Navy Association Annual Symposium, Crystal City, Va.

Unlike the first two America-Class amphibs now in development, the USS America and the USS Tripoli designed as aviation-centric large-deck amphibs, LHA 8 will be built with a classic amphibious assault ship well deck designed to move personnel, vehicles and equipment from ship to shore, said Capt. Chris Mercer, amphibious warfare program manager.

via Navy Bringing Well Decks Back to Amphibs | DoD Buzz.

Years ago when the announcement came that USS America, LHA-6, would not have a well deck, we and many others were stunned. Yes, improving the aviation capabilities of the ‘Gator Navy is an important objective. But removing the actual “amphibious” part of the heart of any amphibious group was a terribly shortsighted decision.

Having to face reality, the Navy has decided to reincorporate what most of us insisted should be there in the first place. And of course, that will entail more costs in redesigning the ship, and likely delay delivery.

We love to say it. We told you so.

America (LHA-6) Underway in Gulf of Mexico

Via Chris Cavas,

The PCU* America (LHA-6) conducted builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico recently.

The new amphibious assault ship AMERICA (LHA 6) took to the sea for the first time Nov. 5, carrying out five days of builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico.

Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries at their Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., the AMERICA was put through more than 200 test events. Engineers checked the operation of the gas turbine/electric-powered propulsion system, along with anchor handling, flight operations, and combat systems’ evaluations. The ship was operated by Ingalls employees assisted by members of the ship’s Navy crew.

“The Ingalls team and the ship performed very well,” said Richard Schenk, Ingalls’ vice president of test and trials.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKDyvjek0BY]

We’re quite dubious about the thought process that leads to building an amphibious warfare ship that has no well deck. But having said that, this is a nice bit of progress, and coupled with the recent float-outs of PCU Zumwalt (DDG-1000) and PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) makes for at least a little good Navy news.

*Until the ship is actually accepted by, and commissioned into the Navy, she’s referred to as “PCU” for “Pre-Commissioning Unit.” Upon commissioning, only then will she become USS America.