JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy's newest class of large-deck amphibious assault ship, LHA 6, will bear the name USS America, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced June 27, while speaking at the USS America Carrier Veterans Association reunion in Jacksonville, Fla.
This ship will inherit a proud tradition, explained Winter. From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, three warships have sailed with the name America.
"To serve in a ship named after our country adds to the pride one feels in being part of the Navy and adds to the feeling that when America pulls into port, there is no more powerful symbol of the power, the ideals, and the greatness of the United States of America," said Winter.
LHA 6 will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name America. The first America, a 74-gun ship-of-the-line, was first built for use by the Continental Navy. However, before having a chance to serve the fledgling U.S. Navy, the ship was presented as a gift to the king of France to show appreciation for his country's service to the new nation.
The second USS America (ID-3006) was used to transport troops during World War I. The third ship to bear the name was a Kitty-Hawk class aircraft carrier (CV 66) in commission 1965-1996. Among other notable accomplishments, the carrier America made three deployments to Vietnam and launched air strikes on Iraq during the opening days of Operation Desert Storm.
The newest America will provide presence and power projection as an integral part of joint and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. The ship will support Marine Corps aviation requirements across a wide spectrum of operations, from small-scale contingency operations as the centerpiece of a forward-deployed expeditionary strike group, to forcible entry missions in a major theater war.
LHA 6 replaces the aging Tarawa-class and represents a conscious decision to increase the aviation capacity of future big deck amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft.
LHA 6 will have an extended hangar deck with two higher hangar bay areas, each fitted with an overhead crane for aircraft maintenance. LHA 6 will also provide increased aviation fuel capacity, stowage for aviation parts and support equipment. LHA 6 will be able to embark and launch the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, cargo and attack helicopters, the AV-8B Harrier and the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II Strike Fighter.
Winter explained the importance of the new America-class amphibious assault ship and the tremendous capability she will bring to the fleet.
"USS America is a wise investment in our nation's security," Winter said, "It will be a ship worthy of her illustrious namesake, and it will continue America's long tradition of peace through strength."
Winter also announced that the sponsor of the ship will be Lynne Pace, wife of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace.
America is currently under contract at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2012.
For more news from the Secretary of the Navy, visit www.navy.mil/local/secnav/.