VodkaPundit

You've Come a Long Way, Baby Carrier

First in her class, the USS America. (Photo courtesy US Navy)

First in her class, the USS America.
(Photo courtesy US Navy)

Get ready for another Marine amphibious assault ship with fricken stealth fighters on it:

Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.

“The ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA[Landing Helicopter Assault] 6 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability,” the U.S. Navy’s website notes about the USS Tripoli’s sister ship, the USS America.

The Essex-class fleet aircraft carriers were the US Navy’s bread-and-butter warships versus the Imperial Japanese Navy, and we built a still-impressive two dozen of the things. The best (and biggest*) full-size carriers in regular use during the war, they displaced 33,000 tons — or one quarter less than the Marine Corps’ new baby carriers.

They also didn’t carry 1,600+ Marines on board, ready to fly Ospreys ashore and kick some behind.

Japan’s Shinano, converted to carrier use from a Yamato-class battleship hull, was quite a bit bigger at 65,000 tons displacement, but Shinano was sunk by the submarine USS Archerfish while still in trials.