Our Ship
USS WASP (LHD-1) is the lead ship of a class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding division of Litton in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy-Marine Corps team's newest amphibious warship has as its primary mission the support of a Marine Landing Force. USS WASP and her sister ships are the first specifically designed to accommodate new Landing Craft, Air Cushion for fast troop movement over the beach and Harrier II (AV-8B) Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing jets which provide close-in air support for the assault force. LHD-1, which is 844 feet long with a beam of 106 feet, also accommodates the full range of Navy and Marine Corps helicopters, conventional landing craft, and amphibious vehicles.

To carry out its primary mission, USS WASP has an assault support system that synchronizes the simultaneous horizontal and vertical flow of troops, cargo and vehicles throughout the ship. Two aircraft elevators service the hangar bay and flight deck. Six cargo elevators, each 12 by 25 feet, are used to transport material and supplies from the 100,000 cubic foot cargo holds throughout the ship to staging areas on the flight deck, hangar bay and vehicle storage area. Cargo is transferred to waiting landing craft docked within the ship's 13,000 square foot, 266 foot long, well deck. Helicopters in the hangar bay or on the flight deck are cargo-loaded by forklift.

LHD-1 has medical and dental facilities capable of providing intensive medical assistance to 600 casualties, whether combat incurred or brought aboard ship during humanitarian missions. The corpsmen also provide routine medical/dental care to the crew and embarked personnel. Major medical facilities include four main and two emergency operating rooms, four dental operating rooms, x-ray rooms, a blood bank, laboratories, and patient wards. In addition, three battle dressing stations are located throughout the ship, as well as a casualty collecting area at the flight deck level. Medical elevators rapidly transfer casualties from the flight deck and hangar bay to the medical facilities.

For the comfort of the 1,075 crewmembers and 1,600 embarked troops, all manned spaces and berthing areas are individually heated and air conditioned. Crew and troop berthing are on the same deck level, with galleys and mess facilities nearby. Berthing areas are subdivided to provide semi-private spaces without adversely affecting efficiency. Deck and wall coverings are decorative but also serviceable and easy to maintain. Messing areas facilitate rapid feeding in a restaurant atmosphere. Onboard recreational facilities include a state-of-the-art Library Multi-Media Resource Center with Internet access, a weight room, arcade machines and satellite television capabilities.

USS WASP's two steam propulsion plants--the largest currently in operation in the U.S. Navy--generate a total of 400 tons of steam per hour. The propulsion system develops 70,000 shaft horsepower, powering the ship to speeds in excess of 22 knots. USS Wasp was built using more than 21,000 tons of steel, 400 tons of aluminum, 400 miles of electrical/electronic cables, 80 miles of piping and tubing of various types and sizes, and 10 miles of ventilation ducting. WASP weighed more than 27,000 tons when moved onto the Ingalls floating dry-dock on July 30, 1987 for launch on August 4, 1987, becoming the largest man-made object rolled across land.


US Navy Fact File -

Amphibious Assault Ships - LHA/LHD/LHA(R) 

The largest of all amphibious warfare ships; resembles a small aircraft carrier; capable of Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL), Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL), Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tilt-rotor and Rotary Wing (RW) aircraft operations; contains a well deck to support use of Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) and other watercraft (with exception of the first two LHA(R) class ships, LHA 6 and LHA 7, which have no well deck).

Modern U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ships project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) / Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). A key element of the Seapower 21 pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing, these ships transport and land elements of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) or Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) with a combination of aircraft and landing craft.

The Tarawa-class LHAs and Wasp-class LHDs provide the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement by helicopter in addition to movement by landing craft. Three LHAs — which have extensive storage capacity and can accommodate Landing Craft Utility (LCU) and LCAC craft — were active during Operations Desert Shield / Storm. Since that time, LHAs (and later LHDs) have been participants in major humanitarian-assistance, occupation and combat operations in which the United States has been involved. Such operations have included participating as launch platforms for Marine Corps expeditionary forces into Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and 2002, Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and humanitarian support after the catastrophic Tsunami in 2004. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, two LHDs served as “Harrier carriers,” launching an air group of AV-8B attack aircraft against targets inside Iraq. In 2004, LHAs and LHDs were used to transport thousands of Marines and their equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan for combat operations. Most recently, critical post Hurricane Katrina support was provided in New Orleans by LHD 7 (Iwo Jima) where thousands of police, fire and rescue personnel were hosted onboard during recovery operations and IWO JIMA operated as the central command and control hub. With delivery of Iwo Jima in 2001, the Navy and Marine Corps reached a desired force level of amphibious warfare ships — LHAs/LHDs, LPDs and LSD 41/49s — that provide fully capable Expeditionary Strike Groups to fulfill anticipated forward-presence and expeditionary requirements. The eighth LHD, Makin Island (LHD 8), was delivered to the Navy in April 2009, and commissioned in October 2009. LHD 8 differs from earlier ships of the class in that it is powered by gas turbine engines rather than steam turbines. LHD 8 is the first U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship to replace steam boilers with gas turbines, and the first Navy surface ship to be equipped with both gas turbines and an Auxiliary Propulsion System (APS). This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed with fuel efficiency in mind. The APS uses two induction-type Auxiliary Propulsion Motors (APM) powered from the ship’s electrical grid instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship’s shaft. Instead of using its gas turbines which are less efficient at lower speeds, the ship will be able to use its APS for roughly 75 percent of the time the ship is underway. Over the course of Makin Island’s lifecycle, the Navy expects to see a savings of more than $250 million. Because the gas turbines will be used infrequently, the Navy will also save on maintenance and lifecycle costs. The entire propulsion and electric system is controlled by a comprehensive machinery control system that also controls and monitors damage control, ballasting and de-ballasting, fuel fill and auxiliary machinery. The machinery control system allows the ship to switch from gas turbine to electric propulsion on the fly. It is fully distributed, accessible from multiple locations, and every console provides full system control and monitoring capabilities of the entire engineering plant. The propulsion plant and electrical distribution and auxiliary systems designed and built for Makin Island will also be used aboard the future USS America (LHA 6), the first ship in the LHA Replacement program. LHA 6 was placed under contract in June 2007 with NGSB. LHA 6 will be an aviation-centric modified repeat of the LHD 8 and is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2013. Key differences between LHA 6 and the LHD class ships include an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced aviation maintenance facilities, increased aviation fuel capacity, additional aviation storerooms, removal of the well deck, and an electronically reconfigurable C4ISR suite. Three of the original five Tarawa-class LHAs were recently decommissioned: USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) in October 2005, USS Saipan (LHA 2) in April 2007 and USS Tarawa (LHA 1) in March 2009 and USS Nassau (LHA 4) in March 2011.

Amphibious warships are designed to support the Marine Corps tenets of Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) and Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM). They must be able to sail in harm’s way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice. The United States maintains the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world. The Wasp-class LHDs are currently the largest amphibious ships in the world. The lead ship, USS Wasp (LHD 1) was commissioned in July 1989 in Norfolk, Va. LHA Replacement or LHA(R) is the next step in the incremental development of the “Big Deck Amphib”. She is being designed to accommodate the Marine Corps’ future Air Combat Element (ACE) including F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and MV-22 Osprey with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities, while also providing additional cargo stowage capacities and enabling a broader, more flexible Command and Control capability.
Program Status
LHA 5 and LHDs 1-8 are in-service. LHA 6 (America) is planned for delivery to the Fleet in 2013. A keel authentication ceremony for the future USS America (LHA 6) was held July 17, 2009, at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.
Point Of Contact
Office of Corporate Communication (SEA 00D)
Naval Sea Systems Command
Washington, D.C. 20376
General Characteristics, LHA(R) Class LHA (6)
Builder: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, Miss.
Date Deployed: Scheduled for delivery to the fleet in 2013.
Propulsion: Two marine gas turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower, two 5,000 horsepower auxiliary propulsion motors.
Length: 844 feet (257.3 meters).
Beam: 106 feet (32.3 meters).
Displacement: Approximately 44,971 long tons full load (45,695 metric tons).
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.
Homeport: PCU America (LHA 6), No homeport - under construction
Ships: PCU America (LHA6), No homeport - Under Construction
General Characteristics, Wasp Class
Builder: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, MS.
Date Deployed: July 29, 1989 (USS Wasp)
Propulsion: (LHDs 1–7) two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower; (LHD 8) two gas turbines, two shafts; 70,000 total shaft horsepower, two 5,000 horsepower auxiliary propulsion motors.
Length: 844 feet (253.2 meters).
Beam: 106 feet (31.8 meters).
Displacement: LHDs 1-4: 40,650 tons full load (41,302.3 metric tons)
LHDs 5-7: 40,358 tons full load (41,005.6 metric tons)
LHD 8: 41,772 tons full load (42,442.3 metric tons).
Speed: 20+ knots (23.5+ miles per hour).
Crew: Ships Company: 66 officers, 1,004 enlisted
LHD 8: 65 officers, 994 enlisted
Marine Detachment: 1,687 troops (plus 184 surge).
Armament: Two RAM launchers; two NATO Sea Sparrow launchers; three 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts (two on LHD 5-8); four .50 cal. machine guns; four 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns (LHD 5-8 have three 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns).
Aircraft: 12 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters; 4 CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; 6 AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft; 3 UH-1N Huey helicopters; 4 AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters. (planned capability to embark MV-22 Osprey VTOL tilt-rotors).
Landing/Attack Craft: 3 LCACs or 2 LCUs.
USS Wasp (LHD 1), Norfolk, VA
USS Essex (LHD 2), Sasebo, Japan
USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Norfolk, VA
USS Boxer (LHD 4), San Diego, CA
USS Bataan (LHD 5), Norfolk, VA
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), San Diego, CA
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Norfolk, VA
USS Makin Island (LHD 8), San Diego, CA
General Characteristics, Tarawa Class
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, MS.
Date Deployed: May 29, 1976 (USS Tarawa)
Propulsion: Two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total shaft horsepower.
Length: 820 feet (249.9 meters).
Beam: 106 feet (31.8 meters).
Displacement: 39,400 tons (40,032 metric tons) full load.
Speed: 24 knots (27.6 miles per hour).
Crew: Ships Company: 82 officers, 882 enlisted
Marine Detachment 1,900 plus.
Armament: Two RAM launchers; two Phalanx 20 mm CIWS mount; three .50 cal. machine guns; four 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns.
Aircraft: 12 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters; 4 CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; 6 AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft; 3 UH-1N Huey helicopters; 4 AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters.
Landing/Attack Craft: 4 LCUs or 2 LCUs and 1 LCAC.
USS Nassau (LHA 4), Norfolk, VA
USS Peleliu (LHA 5), San Diego, CA
Last Update: 10 November 2011