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.
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.