Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Pascagoula, MS, United States (4E) – The USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the second America-class amphibious assault ship built for the U.S. Navy, was christened Sept. 16 with Lynne Mabus (wife of former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus) as the ship’s sponsor.
Mrs. Mabus officially christened the warship that will transport United States Marines into battle after breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across her bow.
Some 2,000 guests attended the ceremony, which took place at Ingalls Shipbuilding (a division of Northrop Grumman Corporation) in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
“I’d like to thank the shipbuilders, who through what must be supernatural abilities, have built something that goes beyond anything nature could create,” said Mrs. Mabus.
“This ship was built by the hands of the women and men of Huntington Ingalls, but to look at it, it looks as if it was built by the hands of the gods.
“She is made of 45,000 tons of steel and sweat, and she will carry on her back and in her belly aircraft such as the Harrier, Osprey, Lightning, King Stallion, Viper, Night Hawk … She will also be a place our sailors and Marines will call home.”
Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee said that when USS Tripoli joins the fleet in late 2018, “we’ll be a stronger, more flexible and better Navy and Marine Corps team. The ship will be a force-multiplier, and her crew will proudly serve our country for decades to come.
“I am grateful to the men and women of Ingalls Shipbuilding for their dedication and to the citizens of Pascagoula for their unwavering support as we continue to make our Navy stronger.”
Tripoli is the second in the America-class, which is expected total 11 ships. The Tripoli and the USS America (LHA-6) are optimized for aviation capability, which means they have larger aircraft hangar decks to store more aircraft.
The warships also have enhanced aircraft-maintenance facilities; more storage for onboard jet fuel and more high-tech intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
“The idea is rapid mobility air assault,” said Capt. Michael Baze, Commanding Officer of the USS America.
“So the thinking with me and my Marines right now is, lighter companies, people that can move quickly via the (MV-22) Osprey and the (CH-53Es).”
The Tripoli will also be the first LHA fully ready to integrate the entire future air combat element of the Marine Corps, including the Lockheed Martin F-35B stealth fighters capable of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL).
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