By Fatima Bahtic
US Navy’s Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro has revealed that a future America-class amphibious assault ship will be named USS Fallujah (LHA 9).
The future USS Fallujah will commemorate the First and Second Battles of Fallujah, American-led offensives during the Iraq War.
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.
The First Battle of Fallujah occurred in April 2004 in an effort to capture or kill insurgents responsible for the killing of four U.S. contractors. The Second Battle of Fallujah, fought between 7 November and 23 December, 2004, was a major U.S. led offensive to retake control of the city from insurgents and foreign fighters.
With over 100 coalition forces killed and over 600 wounded, Operation Phantom Fury is considered the bloodiest engagement of the Iraq War and the fiercest urban combat involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War’s Battle of Hue City.
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.
USS America (LHA 6), along with the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) are LHD variants optimized for aviation capability. America-class ships are 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.
The propulsion plant and electrical distribution and auxiliary systems designed and built for USS Makin Island (LHD 8) are also used aboard USS America class ships. USS America (LHA 6) was delivered to the U.S. Navy in April 2014. USS Tripoli (LHA 7) was commissioned in July 2020, while Bougainville (LHA 8) is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is expected to join the fleet in 2024.
LHA 6 and LHA 7, commonly referred to as Flight 0 ships, contain key differences from the LHD class to 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.
LHA 8 will be the first Flight 1 ship, reincorporating a well deck to enhance expeditionary war fighting capabilities while maintaining the principal aviation characteristics of the Flight 0 via a reduced island.