US shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries announced that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division received a $187.46 million advance procurement contract for the US Navy’s third America-class amphibious assault ship.
The contract will allow the company to start long-lead-time material and advance procurement activities for the yet-to-be-named LHA 9.
“This contract allows us to maintain the health of our critical nationwide shipbuilding supplier base while continuing our serial production of large-deck amphibs,” Ingalls Shipbuilding president Brian Cuccias said. “We will work closely with our Navy-Marine Corps partners and our suppliers across the US to build another highly capable, versatile and survivable warship.”
Ingalls is currently the sole builder of large-deck amphibious ships for the navy. The shipyard delivered its first amphibious assault ship, the Iwo Jima-class USS Tripoli (LPH 10), in 1966. Ingalls has since built five Tarawa-class (LHA 1) ships, eight Wasp-class (LHD 1) ships and the first in a new class of amphibious assault ships, America (LHA 6), in 2014.
The second ship in that class, Tripoli (LHA 7), was delivered to the navy earlier this year, while Bougainville (LHA 8) is currently under construction.
America-class ships are designed to enhance Marine Corps aviation, and are capable of supporting the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys and the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Compared to conventional amphibious assault ships, the first two ships in the America-class sacrifice the well deck in favor of an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage of parts and equipment and an increased aviation fuel capacity.
The US Navy earlier said that Bougainville (LHA 8) would be the first Flight I ship, reincorporating a well deck to enhance expeditionary warfighting capabilities while maintaining the principal aviation characteristics of the Flight 0 ships.
With a typical air combat element embarked, an LHA ship can be equipped with five F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, two UH-1Y Venom attack helicopters, four CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters, 12 MV-22 Osprey, and two MH-60S Search and Rescue helicopters.