The USA’s America Class NAAS: Carrier Air + Amphibious Assault
LHA 6 passes Navy INSURV inspection; DOT&E report says design needs to be improved; LHA-6/7 Specifications; FY 2005-2018 budgets updated; Additional Readings sections updated & upgraded.
Jan 31/14: INSURV. LHA 6 America completes Navy acceptance trials off the coast of Pascagoula, MS. The Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) evaluated all of the ship’s major systems, including combat, propulsion, communications, navigation, mission systems and aviation capabilities. It passed with no major deficiencies, which is a real achievement for a first-of-class ship. Delivery is planned for spring 2014.
Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The America Class is included, and some of its deficiencies aren’t really about the ship – but others are.
It has been known for some time that the SSDS combat system needs continued improvement, and test aboard Nimitz Class supercarriers indicate that some modern cruise missile attacks will overwhelm existing defenses. The technical term is “Probability of Raid Annihilation”, and LHA-R isn’t likely to meet the goal the Navy set. Some of that is traceable to the design, however:
“LFT&E analysis completed so far identified potential problems in susceptibility and vulnerability that would likely result in the LHA-6 being unable to maintain or recover mission capability following a hit by certain threat weapons, the details of which are classified. The Navy’s required updated analysis is behind schedule jeopardizing planning for follow-on ship survivability improvements…. In particular, some fluid systems need additional isolation valves, sensors, and remote operators to allow rapid identification and isolation of damage and reconfiguration for restoration of the mission capability they support. Additionally, the egress from some of the troop and crew berthing spaces may result in crew causalities and delay damage control actions. The Navy has plans to incorporate some corrective actions for follow-on ships.”
Modern U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ships project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) / Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). LHA/LHD are a key element of the Seapower 21 doctrine pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing, transporting, launching, and landing elements of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) via a combination of LCAC hovercraft, amphibious transports and vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft.
Designed to project power and maintain presence, LHA-Replacement (LHA-R, aka. LH-X, and now the New Amphibious Assault Ship or NAAS) large deck amphibious assault ships were slated to replace the US Navy’s 6 LHA-1 Tarawa Class vessels. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. While its LHA/LHD predecessors were amphibious assault ships with a secondary aviation element, it’s fair to describe the America Class as escort carriers with a secondary amphibious assault role.
The NAAS Program
The LHA-R Ships: 21st Century Escort Carriers
The Well Deck Issue
Power and Influence: Secondary Ship Features
LHA-R: Contracts & Key Events
FY 2010 – 2011
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2007 and Earlier
Background: The America Class
Background: Ship Ancillaries
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