HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding has laid the keel of the US Navy’s next America-class amphibious assault ship, the USS Fallujah (LHA 9), in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The LHA 9 is the fourth vessel to be constructed under the America-class program and the second ship to have a well-deck structure.
It will have features similar to the USS Bougainville (LHA 8), including enhanced aviation capability, added surface assault weapons, and a larger flight deck to support the F-35 Lightning II multi-role combat jet and MV-22 Osprey vertical/short takeoff and landing tiltrotor aircraft.
Furthermore, the ship will include medical facilities incorporating full operating suites and triage capabilities.
“Ingalls is honored to mark this important milestone with our shipbuilders and so many of our critical partners here today,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson stated.
“Whether representing namesake, customer, community or shipyard, today’s keel event demonstrates the unique connection we have to one another through this industry and through our respective devotion to service.”
The USS Fallujah
LHA 9 will sail alongside other America-class vessels to operate for US Navy amphibious-ready groups and US Marine Corps expeditionary units once completed.
It is expected to provide quick combat power buildup at sea and sustain theater logistics and air superiority.
The 844-foot (257.3-meter) ship will have a speed of over 20 knots (37 kilometers/23 miles per hour), a capacity of more than 1,600 personnel, and armaments such as Rolling Airframe Missile launchers, NATO Sea Sparrow and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile launchers, 20-millimeter Phalanx Close-In Weapon System mounts, and .50-caliber machine guns.
While built with designs close to existing navy carriers, the LHA 9 will primarily serve rotorcraft. In addition to the MV-22s, the vessel can accommodate CH-53E Sea Stallion, MH-60S Seahawk, UH-1Y Huey, and AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters.
“This ship provides critical amphibious assault capabilities, while also having the flexibility to support other missions, such as humanitarian efforts, when called upon,” US Navy Amphibious Warfare Program Manager Cedric McNeal said.
“With the start of fabrication in late 2022 and the keel laying commemorated today, steady progress is being made and we look forward to eventually delivering this ship to the warfighter.”