The USS America amphibious assault ship and USS Somerset (LPD-25), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, are running a bit behind the initial delivery schedule to the U.S. Navy, but shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) sees no reason for concern.
HII had been looking at delivering the Somerset this year and the America early next year.
But, says HII CEO Michael Petters, ”Regarding schedule, I would say [the] second half of next year for both of those ships. We just christened the Somerset and will be christening the America in October and they’ll go through the whole trial sequence and everything else.”
Petters, speaking Aug. 8 during a conference call with financial investment analysts to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings, said, “It is later than we had originally laid out a couple of years ago; but again, I think as we’ve been working our way through this, we’ve been adjusting the schedule to reflect our better understanding of what the risk profile is. That’s part of what our challenge over the past couple of years has been.”
The next-generation America, the Navy says, is optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tiltrotorand the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Some of the special aviation features, compared to previous amphibious assault ships, include 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.
LPDs transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies by embarked air cushion or conventional landing craft; by amphibious assault vehicles; or by helicopters or vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. These ships support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions and can serve as secondary aviation platforms.
Peters says, “Both of those ships are in pretty good shape. I’m pleased with the quality of the launch on Somerset and I’m particularly pleased with what the team on America is doing. They’re basically working through a new design program there with a significant engineering change, and they got the ship in the water early. It was a quality launch, and so I’m excited about where that’s going.”