- 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.