The second America-class amphibious warship entered the U.S. Navy fleet in an administrative action last Wednesday, July 15th without the pomp and circumstance of a commissioning ceremony. A lot of the timing had to do with the fire on the Bonhomme Richard (BHR) in San Diego.
USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which delivered to the Navy in February, will continue to prepare to transit to its new homeport at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., later this year.
Named for the 1805 Battle of Derna and crewed by 1,000 sailors, Tripoli eschews the well deck of the previous class of Wasp-class design in favor of an aviation-enhanced design. As with lead ship USS America (LHA-6), Tripoli has larger aviation maintenance spaces to accommodate the MV-22B Osprey and F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter, increased jet fuel stores and more to support the Marines’ latest and greatest aircraft types.
Tripoli will be able to field F-35Bs on its first deployment, thanks to both the design and some upgrades that were made during and after the ship construction process, such as improved communications and flight deck strengthening to support the heat coming from the jet during its vertical landings.
“Tripoli’s design features an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.”
The 45,000-ton warship also fields a hybrid propulsion that uses electric motors to drive the ship when traveling under 12 knots. That propulsion system was first introduced in the last Wasp-class ship, USS Makin Island (LHD-8).
The ship will be the last in the class to be built without a well deck. As part of a redesign of the America class, the next ship, Bougainville (LHA-8), will include the well deck and capability to launch surface connectors to bring Marines ashore.
The newly minted CH-53K King Stallion has begun to be delivered to the US Marine Corps. It’s a heavy lift platform, not a long range heavy gun ship Like the MH-53 Pave Low. Their first sea command will likely be the USS Tripoli.
USS Tripoli is slated to be a key player in the coming war with China.