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SECNAV Names Future America-class Amphibious Assault Ship USS Helmand Province

02 May 2024

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced that a future America-class amphibious assault ship will be named USS Helmand Province (LHA 10). Secretary Del Toro made the announcement, today, during the final day of Modern Day Marine 2024 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

The future USS Helmand Province commemorates the multiple U.S. Marine Corps operations that took place in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The name selection follows the tradition of naming amphibious assault ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles, early U.S. sailing ships, or legacy names of earlier carriers from World War II.  Secretary Del Toro named LHA 9, the future USS Fallujah, in 2022.

“In keeping with naval tradition of naming our Navy’s amphibious assault ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles, I am honored to announce today that the future LHA-10 will be named USS Helmand Province,” said Secretary Del Toro. “Recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of our Marines and Sailors who fought for almost 20 years in the mountains of Afghanistan.”

Initiating the first U.S. ground offensive of OEF, on Oct. 19, 2001, helicopters launched from USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) lifted Task Force Sword (FT-11) to Objective Rhino, a remote airstrip in Helmand Province. Following the airstrip’s seizure, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived on Nov. 25, 2001 to establish Camp Rhino. It was one of the longest ship-to-shore amphibious operations in history. Elements of the 26th MEU (Special Operations Command) subsequently reinforced the 15th MEU on Dec. 4, 2001. Afterward, Marine presence in Helmand remained constant, though minimal. On April 29, 2008, the 24th MEU stormed Taliban-held Garmser, then staged into southern Helmand on June 1, 2008. With allied support, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade launched Operation Strike of the Sword on July 2, 2009. The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines later conducted operation Sangin Moshtrarak Naweed in May 2012. This was one of OEF’s largest air assault operations. By 2013, with relative regional stability secured, Marines trained Afghan forces to maintain security in advance of the late 2014 drawdown.

“For Marines, Helmand Province is a place of bittersweet memories,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric M. Smith. “An entire generation of Marines wrote another chapter in the storied history of our Corps there, as warriors, but also as peacebuilders. Their legacy is defined by the spirit they embodied and the lives they touched. I look forward to the day when the USS Helmand Province will steam forward and carry Marines on their way to write new chapters—in peace, and if called, in war.”

Along with the ship’s name, Secretary Del Toro announced the sponsor for the future USS Helmand Province as Mrs. Trish Smith, the spouse of Gen. Smith. She is an active volunteer for Marine Corps programs, including the Cornerstone Program, and Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills (LINKS) program. She is an advocate and mentor for military families. In her role as sponsor, Trish Smith will represent a lifelong relationship with the ship and crew.

“Sponsoring the USS Helmand Province is an honor beyond words,” said Trish Smith. “I am looking forward to a lifelong relationship with the ship’s leaders, but more importantly, with the generations of Marines, Sailors, and their families that she will carry abroad. Together, we will forever carry the memories of those who served in Helmand.”

During his remarks, Secretary Del Toro reiterated that Marines on naval vessels, such as the future USS Helmand Province, are building relationships with our allies and partners in support of integrated deterrence. The Marine Corps remains focused on modernizing to fight and win against current and future threats in any clime and place.

“The work we ask our Marines and Sailors to do every day is anything but ordinary or routine, and in many cases extremely dangerous. It is incumbent upon all of us, including government and industry, to leverage every resource at our disposal to ensure our Marines have what they need to be successful in their assigned missions and return home safely to their loved ones,” said Secretary Del Toro.

America-class amphibious assault ships are designed to support Marine Corps Operational Maneuver From the Sea and Ship to Objective Maneuvers. The America-class ships replaced all of the decommissioned Tarawa-class LHAs and are now optimized for aviation ability, accommodating the Marine Corps’ future Air Combat Element while adding additional aviation maintenance capabilities and increasing fuel capacities, and extra cargo storage. With the unique inherent powers of the amphibious assault ships, they are often called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions upon short notice.

More information on amphibious assault ships can be found here.

Modern Day Marine is an annual trade show and exposition which showcases the latest innovations and technologies in military equipment, weapons, and gear and is primarily aimed at U.S. Marines and defense industry representatives. The show provides a forum for Marine Corps leaders to collaborate with our industry partners, Congressional stakeholders, and Department of Defense leadership on current and future initiatives. Engagements during the expo are intended to reinforce existing programs and priorities and set conditions for future initiatives.

Read Secretary Del Toro's full remarks here.


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