Tuesday, July 01, 2008


....and this time she won't be limping to war on her one good boiler....

The first LHA-R, LHA-6, will be called USS AMERICA - bringing a strong name to a strong ship.

Now, don't get all itchy thinking AMERICA should only be on a CVN. LHA-6 is not your father's Amphib.
LHA 6, the first ship of the LHA(R) program, would be able to operate and support a detachment of 20+ F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. LHA 6 featurs several aviation capabilities enhanced beyond previous amphibious assault ships. These 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. LHA 6 would be multi-functional and versatile, modifying existing Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) spaces to allow for flexible mission dependent reconfiguration. LHA 6 would also have increased cargo magazine capacity, better survivability, and greater service life margins. LHA 6 would use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems being designed and built for LHD 8, the final of the Wasp class amphibious assault ships.
The LHA(R) A/V (Aviation Variant) does not have the larger hull of the former LHA(R). The Plug Plus Variant was 77 ft longer & 10 ft wider than the LHD. With the LHA(R) A/V the Well Deck is gone, the Lower Vehicle Deck is gone, and there are no LCACs. LHA(R) Aviation Variant is a new design same footprint size as the existing LHD class ships. It has an expanded Hangar with 2 High Hat areas. The Cargo/Ammo Magazines are contained within an "Armored Box" similar to CVN design for ships survivability purposes. There is AWSE Work Center & stowage space, OHE stowage, and Upper Vehicle stowage (this was out but came back).

The LHA replacement modifies the LHD design to maximize support for the V-22, the CH-53, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with adequate service margins for growth. The biggest change brought about in the Global War on Terror is LHA(R). The aviation specific variant of the LHA(R) has no well deck, a monumental decision that denotes a cultural change. The Marines were seen as bringing the ACE (Aviation Coordination Element) increasingly back to sea.
Ok, no well deck, but we can live with that.

Why do I like the class so much? Simple - Vince Lombardi shipbuilding. It is evolutionary not revolutionary. It will make a shadow pier-side, low risk, helps the Marines break things and kill people - and not just make pretty PPT slides, though it does that quite well.

And yes, I could call it a small CV or CVS - it is the right size.
General Characteristics: LHA-6

Displacement:-Approximately 44,971 long tons full load
Length:-------844 feet (257.3 meters)
Beam:---------106 feet (32.3 meters)
Draft:--------23 feet
Propulsion:---Two marine gas turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower, two 5,000 horsepower auxiliary propulsion motors
Speed:--------20+ knots
Crew:---------1,059 (65 officers)
Load:---------1,687 troops (plus 184 surge)
Armament:-----Two RAM launchers; two NATO Sea Sparrow launchers (with Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)); two 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; seven twin .50 cal. machine guns
Aircraft:-----A mix of: F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL aircraft; MV-22 Osprey VTOL tiltrotors; CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; UH-1Y Huey helicopters; AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters; MH-60S Seahawk helicopters
Just to compare, remember the USS CORAL SEA (CV-43)?
General characteristics: Midway-class aircraft carrier

Displacement:-45,000 tons
Length:-------968 ft (295 m)
Beam: --------113 ft (34 m) waterline
Draft:--------35 ft (11 m)
Propulsion:---Geared steam turbines 212,000 shp
Speed:--------33 knots (61 km/h)
Crew:---------4,104 officers and men
Armament:-----Original armament:
----------------84 × Bofors 40 mm guns,
----------------68 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
----------------18 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 16 guns
--------------Refit armament:
----------------16 Sea Sparrow
----------------2 close-in weapons systems
Armor:--------Belt: 7.6 inch
Deck:---------3.5 inch
Aircraft carried: Up to 130 (World War II)
45-55 (1980s)
As a side-note, perhaps because the politicians have hijacked the naming of CVN and SSN to the great detriment of our Navy's traditions - maybe the AMERICA Class can be a way we can bring back some of our great names. I have a start for them - let's name the Six Frigates and see what is available.
  1. CONSTITUTION: Already in use.
  2. CONSTELLATION: She was a great CV with a great heritage. Available.
  3. CONGRESS: Ungh ... but ... she would have a solid tradition. Available.
  4. PRESIDENT: Fair & balanced. Available.
  5. UNITED STATES: the first one was both a USS and a CSS, victory killed the second, USAF killed the third, Clinton killed the second - let's try again. Available.
  6. CHESAPEAKE: How many Senators would support this? VA, MD, DE, even PA? Available. Sold.
We could also think about ESSEX (sic), HORNET, CORAL SEA (again) ... and on ... and one .... anything but a USS BILL CLINTON ... oh, wait, that will be CVN-79.

One way or another, a few light Carriers with conventional power will be a good thing. Don't tell the egg-heads, but shhhhhhh - there are advantages.


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