General Dynamics NASSCO, the only major US ship construction and repair yard on the West Coast, recently received a 7-year extension of its responsibility for the maintenance and emergent repair of San Diego-based LHA and LHD class amphibious assault ships. NASSCO was first awarded a similar 7-year contract in December 1997, and received a 2-year extension in October 2002. The contract includes additional options to be exercised by the U.S. Navy through fiscal year 2013, which could bump its value to approximately $400 million.
Under the new contract, NASSCO will perform 12 scheduled maintenance availabilities aboard USS Tarawa [LHA 1], USS Peleliu [LHA 5], USS Essex [LHD 2], USS Boxer [LHD 4], USS Bonhomme Richard [LHD 6]; and Makin Island [LHD 8] as well once it’s commissioned in 2008. These are minor maintenance, repair, and upgrade dockings that do not last very long. The initial award under the contract is $63,000 for the pre-planning work leading to the scheduled maintenance availability of USS Boxer [LHD] in June 2007. GD release.
Most other nations would call these 40,000t+ ships aircraft carriers given their ability to carry a Harrier (or F-35B) squadron plus a helicopter complement; compare with the 22,000t HMS Ark Royal, for instance, or the 43,000t nuclear carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle. American LHA/LHD ships also carry a full complement of Marines and vehicles, however, with floodable well decks that contain LCAC hovercraft to deliver them ashore. The American Wasp Class LHDs are newer and slightly larger than the Tarawa Class LHAs; the forthcoming LHA-R Class will be larger still at 50,000t. All are significantly larger than other nation’s LHDs, which tend to be in the 20,000t – 30,000t range.