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Amphibious assault ship

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The amphibious assault ship, usually called an amphib, is a class of warship employed by the United States Navy. It is used primarily to deliver Marines to combat zones. Twelve amphibs have been built, all of which remain in active service. The older amphibs belong to the Tarawa class, which dates back to the 1970s. The newer Wasp class amphibs debuted in 1989.

Amphibs resemble aircraft carriers, and do in fact carry a small number of Harrier jet attack planes. They are only about 75% the length of carriers of the U.S. Navy, though they are somewhat larger than the carriers of other navies.

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Description Primary landing ships, resembling small aircraft carriers, designed to put troops on hostile shores.

Features Modern U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships are called upon to perform as primary landing ships for assault operations of Marine expeditionary units. These ships use Landing Craft Air Cushion[?] (LCAC a type of hovercraft), conventional landing craft and helicopters to move Marine assault forces ashore. In a secondary role, using AV-8B Harrier aircraft and anti-submarine warfare helicopters, these ships perform sea control and limited power projection missions.

Background Amphibious warships are uniquely designed to support assault from the sea against defended positions ashore. They must be able to sail in harm's way and provide a rapid built-up of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. The United States maintains the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world. The Wasp-class are the largest amphibious ships in the world. The lead ship, USS Wasp (LHD 1), was commissioned in July 1989 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Wasp Class

  • Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.
  • Power Plant: Two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 shaft horsepower
  • Length: 844 feet (253.2 meters)
  • Beam: 106 feet (31.8 meters)
  • Displacement: Approx. 40,500 tons (41,150 metric tons) full load
  • Speed: 20+ knots (23.5+ miles per hour)

  • Aircraft:
    • Assault: 42 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters
    • Sea Control: 5 AV-8B Harrier attack planes; Six ASW helicopters

  • Crew:
    • Ships Company: 104 officers, 1,004 enlisted
    • Marine Detachment: 1,894

  • Armament: Two RAM launchers; two NATO Sea Sparrow launchers; three 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts (two on LHD 5-7); four .50 cal. machine guns; four 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns (LHD 5-7 have three 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns).

  • Date Deployed: July 29, 1989 (Wasp)

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