USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN 784) prepares to get underway for sea trials in the predawn hours of an August morning. (General Dynamics Electric Boat/US Navy)
It’s been a busy summer for US shipbuilders, with ships delivered or launched for the US Navy, Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command, and new research ships launched for academic institutions. Here are some highlights of recent weeks.
AMERICA (LHA 6)
This new assault ship is the first of two dedicated to Marine aviation. The AMERICA is closely modeled on the previous assault ship, MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8), complete with slanted uptakes, but lacks the well deck and stern doors featured on all previous assault ships. AMERICA was delivered from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi on April 10, and sailed away from the yard on July 10. But rather than heading directly for her new homeport of San Diego, the AMERICA is conducting a highly unusual voyage around South America, visiting and exercising with several navies along the way. While her commissioning ceremony is to be held Oct. 11 at San Francisco, the ship will be based at San Diego.
The AMERICA comes into Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Aug. 5. The ship is embarking Marines and several MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft – very unusual for a ship yet to be formally commissioned or conduct comprehensive exercises. (US Navy photo by MC1 John Scorza)
A Brazilian Navy helicopter flies overhead as AMERICA exercises at sea with the frigate UNIÃO (F 45) on Aug. 9 off Rio. (US Navy photo by MC1 Michael McNab)
Sailors and Marines from the AMERICA hold a promotion ceremony on Aug. 8 at one of the world’s best-known tourist spots – high atop Mount Corcovado at the Cristo Redemptor (Christ the Redeemer) statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro. CAPT Robert Hall Jr., commanding officer of the ship, is 2nd from right. (US Navy photo by LT Dawn Stankus)
An overhead view of the AMERICA on Aug. 9. The ship is carrying MV-22 Ospreys and MH-60 helicopters. (US Navy photo by MC1 Michael McNabb)
NORTH DAKOTA (SSN 784)
This submarine incorporates the most significant design changes so far in the SSN 774 Virginia-class. First of the Block III design and 11th of the class, the submarine features a redesigned bow structure, incorporating a new sonar arrangement and replacing 12 Tomahawk missile launch tubes with two much larger Virginia Payload Tubes. The VPTs together are able to carry 12 T-Hawks, but also can accommodate a variety of other weapons, sensors or underwater vehicles.
NORTH DAKOTA heads down the Thames River from Groton, Connecticut on Aug. 3, bound for Alpha sea trials – her first time underway. The Gold Star Memorial Bridge, carrying Interstate 95 over the river, is visible in the background. (US Navy photo via General Dynamics Electric Boat)
The NORTH DAKOTA on Aug. 18. The white markers locate emergency hatches. (US Navy via General Dynamics Electric Boat)
Another view of NORTH DAKOTA on Aug. 18. The submarine was delivered Aug. 29 on her contract date. She is scheduled to be commissioned at Groton on Oct. 25. (US Navy photo via General Dynamics Electric Boat)
JOHN WARNER (SSN 785)
At Newport News, Virginia, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding prepares the JOHN WARNER, the next Virginia-class submarine, for its christening ceremony, to be held on Sept. 6. Newport News and Electric Boat share in the construction of Virginia-class subs, each yard building about half of each boat, and alternating in assembling and completing them.
Yard workers stretch out the JOHN WARNER’s ceremonial bow flag before putting it in place. (HII photo by John Whalen)
Bow flag in place, the JOHN WARNER is rolled out into a floating drydock on Sept. 1. (HII photo by John Whalen)
The JOHN WARNER being rolled into position on Sept. 1. The movement of the submarine from the assembly bay into the drydock took about eight hours. (HII photo by John Whalen)
The JOHN WARNER is about 90 percent complete. Much work remains to get the ship ready for sea trials. She’s to be delivered and commissioned in 2015. (HII photo)
MARK VI PATROL BOAT
The first of series of new, heavily armed patrol boats was delivered to the Navy on Aug. 27. Built in Tacoma, Washington by SAFE Boats International, the 85-foot-long, high-speed PBs will carry a variety of crew-served and remotely-operated weapons, up to 25 mm guns on Mark 38 mounts. Able to range in excess of 600 nautical miles, the craft will be assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). They are expected to be shipped to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, Bahrain.
The first boat is one of six ordered on May 14, 2012. Another contract for four boats with options for two more was awarded on July 8, 2014.
The first Mark VI patrol boat on sea trials, before being fitted with armament. (US Navy)
NATIONAL SECURITY CUTTERS
USCGC HAMILTON (WMSL 753) completed acceptance trials on Aug. 17, prior to her delivery to the US Coast Guard from Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi. She is the fourth of eight Legend-class National Security Cutters being built for the Coast Guard, and when commissioned at Charleston, South Carolina on Dec. 6, will become the first NSC based on the US East Coast. Also this summer, the JAMES (WMSL 754) was launched and christened, headed for a delivery in 2015.
HAMILTON underway in the Gulf of Mexico on sea trials on Aug. 13. (US Coast Guard photo by PO3 Carlos Vega)
Another view of the HAMILTON on Aug. 13. (US Coast Guard photo by PO3 Carlos Vega)
HAMILTON on July 18, underway on her initial builder’s sea trials. (Photo by Lance Davis, Huntington Ingalls Industries)
JAMES (WMSL 754) is the fifth of eight National Security Cutters being built for the US Coast Guard. She’s seen here on May 3, being moved by tugs to a fitting out berth just after being launched at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Launched 3 May 2014. Christened on Aug. 16, she’s to be delivered next year, and will also be based at Charleston. (Photo by Andrew Young, Huntington Ingalls Industries)
USNS FALL RIVER (JHSV 4)
The FALL RIVER is the latest Joint High Speed Vessel from Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. Ten of these capable ships are being built.
While your eye is drawn to the striking appearance of the FALL RIVER, seen here on sea trials on July 25, you’re also supposed to notice the ship’s wake, indicating her maneuverability. (US Navy photo via Austal USA)
Another view of FALL RIVER during acceptance trials on July 25. The all-aluminum JHSV’s design is based on successful civilian ferries from Austal, and features a flight deck over a vehicle deck, in turn served by a crane and slewing ramp. (US Navy photo via Austal USA)
R/V SALLY RIDE (T-AGOR 28)
Named for the first female astronaut, the Research Vessel SALLY RIDE is the second of two new research ships under construction by Dakota Creek Industries at Anacortes, Washington. Christened on Aug. 9, she’ll be operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography when delivered in 2015. The first ship, R/V NEIL ARMSTRONG (T-AGOR 27), is to be delivered this fall.
The SALLY RIDE is high in the water after being floated off at Anacortes. (US Navy photo)
SALLY RIDE all dressed up on Aug. 8, ready for her christening ceremonies the next day. She and the NEIL ARMSTRONG feature a modern suite of oceanographic equipment, state of the art acoustic equipment capable of mapping the deepest parts of the oceans, advanced over-the-side handling gear to deploy and retrieve scientific instruments, emissions controls for stack gasses, and new gear to monitor shipboard systems and handle worldwide communications. The Navy, through the Office of Naval Research, has provided large ships for the nation’s academic research fleet since World War II. (US Navy photo by John Williams)
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If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
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