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.


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13 responses to “Navy Bringing Well Decks Back to Amphibs | DoD Buzz

  1. ultimaratioregis

    Well decks. Because ships can carry airplanes, but airplanes can’t carry ships.

    The fastest way to build up combat power ashore is over the water. By many, many orders of magnitude.


    • anon

      In that case something like the LSTs of yore would be most helpful as would the LCI.


    • ultimaratioregis

      LSTs would surely be helpful. But the Navy has gone the “economy of scale” route with bigger “do-it-all” amphibious ships. The “all the eggs in one basket” problem results.


  2. anon

    Building LCAS and offloading MPF in stream is probably only a tiny little bit stupider than landing over the beach. If you want to go ashore big, take a port.


    • Sure. If you can. But you might have to unload some MPF in stream to get enough power to seize a decent port.

      Normandy was an operation to seize a port.


    • ultimaratioregis

      Ahh, the “seize a port” crowd. What you mean to say is “send the grunts to slug their way into a built-up area that the enemy already knows you want and has fortified to the hilt. And send them in without any establishment ashore so everything has to come from embark for the effort.” You fat squids who think that is a good idea and will sustain fewer casualties can go first.


  3. Trying to think of which port was seized. Marseilles?


  4. El Sid

    Err – the plan was always to have well decks in LHA-8 onwards, this isn’t the USN suddenly deciding that it was a mistake to omit them. See eg page 6 here from three years ago. Given that the Americas are based on the USS Makin Island design, putting back the well deck which was in the earlier design is not some fanciful blue-sky bit of engineering either.

    Sure, the increasing weight of combat vehicles means you can never have enough well decks, but if the future of the US Navy in much of the world is Libya-style no/few boots on the ground, then it makes sense to have a couple of ships in the mix that are geared for all-out air operations. It gives your commanders options they wouldn’t otherwise have – that must be good, right?


    • The plan as of 2011 was to ask for funds to redesign follow on LHA-6 class with a well deck. But 8 years ago, when LHA-6 was announced, a whole lot of us asked why there was no well deck. If they’d truncated the well deck from a 3 LCAC footprint to 1 LCAC to optimize for aviation, I don’t think too many of us would have been very upset. But as it is now, roughly 20% of the big deck force will have NO heavy capability.


  5. anon

    Overlord was unique. It was the only time we’ll ever land a landing force that size and to seize an entire continent. You notice there were no Mulberries at Torch or Avalanche or anywhere in the Pacific. It’s hard to find a reference for later landings that required an amphibious landing other than the port of Inchon which was the last I can recall.


    • Every landing in the Med/Europe (with the exception of Anzio) had as an immediate objective securing a port for follow-on forces and logistics. North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Dragoon all seized ports before moving inland. The Mulberries were simply needed for Normandy since even with Cherbourg, not enough throughput would be available to sustain the buildup.

      Most of the assaults we’re familiar with in the Pacific, on the other hand, were on objectives small enough that the force of 1, 2, or maybe three divisions could be supported over the shore. Then that objective would be developed as an airfield and anchorage complex.

      Are we likely to have to seize an entire continent again? No, but we also have a lot less amphibious shipping, so anything beyond one, maybe two MarDivs will require eventually seizing a port or at least a suitable beach for LOTS.