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.
Navy observers were also pleased with the trials.
“The ship performed well at sea and largely exceeded my expectations. The state of completion is right where it should be for builder’s trials,” said Capt. Chris Mercer, Amphibious Warfare program manager for the Program Executive Office, Ships. “Our joint government and industry team comprehensively tested every aspect of the ship’s equipment and systems, and the results leave us with a clear path to a successful acceptance trials and delivery next year.”
The AMERICA and her sister ship TRIPOLI are the first big-deck assault ships not built with an internal well deck. Rather, the ships are optimized to support Marine Corps aviation combat elements with additional aviation maintenance capability, increased fuel capacity and a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment. The ships use the same fuel and energy-saving propulsion plant, zone electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems installed in the MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8).
America-class ships are 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and displace 44,971 long tons. The gas-turbine propulsion system drives the ships in excess of 20 knots. They will accommodate a crew of 1,059 (65 officers) and 1,687 troops.
Ingalls now is preparing the AMERICA for acceptance sea trials in late January, when the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) will be aboard to determine if the ship is ready for delivery.
The AMERICA is scheduled to enter service in 2014, homeported at San Diego.
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