SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) reached its 75 percent completion milestone during post-shakedown availability (PSA) January 14.
America is currently undergoing a PSA phase in which the ship's crew and assigned contractors make improvements to the ship's design. PSA began in the summer of 2015 and is scheduled to wrap up in March.
"One of the big challenges with LHA 6 is that it is the first of its class. Even with its similarities to the LHD class, there has been nothing like it before," said the post-delivery hull manager Michael Galecki.
Eighty percent of the ship's upgrades will consist of adapting the flight deck for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The ship will better handle the aircraft's thrust, reduce heat sent to the decks below, and allow for longer periods between flight deck maintenance.
"A major improvement done is the back-fitting of JSF upgrades to allow the ship to support these aircraft in future deployments," said Galecki. "The upgrades consist of the complete overhaul of the flight deck's non-skid and the addition of a thermal coating called thermion."
Along with flight deck renovations, maintenance capabilities in the hangar bay will significantly improve. Sailors will be able to more effectively work on deployed aircraft such as the JSF, tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and the AV-8B Harrier.
"The high beam modifications will allow aircraft like the Osprey to fully extend its blades, while the lowered platforms will be at an ideal height for maintenance to be performed," said Cmdr. Michael W. Smith Jr., America's post-delivery manager.
Another significant improvement is to the cargo and weapons elevator, bringing its safety and operational effectiveness up to the standards of the fleet. They were not up to standard in the original design due to changes in safety since the ship was contracted.
"When ships are originally contracted, it is a few years until they actually reach the fleet. During that time the Navy is constantly improving its safety and operational standards," said Smith.
The improvements made to America during the ship's PSA period will allow the crew to work safer, more efficiently and longer at sea, supporting its crew and allies during times of war or peace.
For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.