US Navy launches USS Tripoli versatile landing ship

The US Navy commissioned the USS Tripoli (LHA 7) amphibious assault ship. It can carry the latest fifth-generation F-35B fighters.

On July 15, the U.S. Navy introduced the U.S. Tripoli UDC. The Navy has canceled the traditional commissioning ceremony due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The USS Tripoli is the second ship of the America type. It was laid down in 2014 and launched in 2017. Last year, Tripoli successfully completed acceptance testing after spending several days in the Gulf of Mexico.

The development and construction of America-class universal amphibious assault ships began to gradually replace the UDC of the Tarawa and Wasp types. The ships of the new type have a total displacement of 45,700 tons, a length of 257, and a width of 32 meters. The crew includes over a thousand people. More than 1,500 paratroopers can be accommodated onboard. The ship’s air group can include a wide variety of aircraft, including fifth-generation F-35B fighters, CH-53 helicopters, and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors.

The first UDC America – USS America (LHA 6) – was commissioned in 2014. Both this ship and the new USS Tripoli belong to the Flight 0 series. Its distinguishing feature is the lack of a docking chamber for landing boats and armored personnel carriers: in its place, there are additional hangars and workshops. The next America-class UDC – USS Bougainville (LHA 8) – is being built as part of the Flight 1. In total, the US Navy should receive 11 ships of the new type.

The birth of the “universal landing ship” subclass was the result of understanding the experience of the Vietnam War when the Americans lacked a ship that combined the qualities of different landing ships and support vessels. Today, the US Navy is the leader in the number of UDC.

China will try to compete with the Americans in the future. In September 2019, he launched the first Project 075 universal amphibious assault ship, and in April they held the launching ceremony for the second UDC of this type. The ships of the 075 project are among the world’s largest UDC: they are larger than the French Mistral and somewhat smaller America-class ships.

Russia today does not have universal landing ships: earlier, France refused to sell it a Mistral UDC. The country intends to build such ships itself. Recall that recently a source in the military-industrial complex announced the imminent laying of two new UDCs for the Russian Navy. It is assumed that the air group of each of them may include several dozen helicopters.