US building small aircraft carriers with amphibious assault well decks

Scout Warrior:
Unlike the first two of 11-planned America-Class Amphibs built with an aviation focus without a well-deck, LHA 8 will be built to accommodate both air and surface amphibious assault missions.

The Navy is acquiring early materials, working on systems engineering and starting detailed design work for a new America-Class Amphibious Assault ship which re-introduces “well-deck” surface attack technology to prepare the service for future amphibious warfare.

Construction of the ship, LHA 8 (Bougainville), is scheduled to commence in late 2018 with delivery planned to occur in 2024, Colleen O’Rourke, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

“Over the past year, efforts have focused on advanced system engineering and production planning,” O’Rourke said.

Unlike the first two of 11-planned America-Class Amphibs built with an aviation focus without a well-deck, LHA 8 will be built to accommodate both air and surface amphibious assault missions.

A statement from ship-builder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) said the well deck will give the U.S. Marine Corps the ability to house and launch two landing craft air cushion hovercraft or one landing craft utility as needed during maritime missions. These connectors, which the Navy is now upgrading, enable amphibious forces to move Marines, weapons, assault vehicles and other combat assets from ship to shore.
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As the Marine Corps more fully returns to its amphibious roots, and pivots from a decade and a half of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many planners see the need to strengthen and solidify a high-tech, modern amphibious assault concept well suited to engage in major power, near-peer type warfare against technologically advanced adversaries.

While the tactical, strategic and operational factors are now quite different than they were decades ago when Marines launched its historic attack on Iwo Jima, amphibious assault operations are expected to figure prominently in war planning for decades to come. They naturally provide Combatant Commanders with additional offensive operations and, in some scenarios, might be required to attack an entrenched coastal force less reachable by air power.
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The ability to make amphibious assaults won World War II.  While the Marines focused on the Pacific campaign against Japan,  Eisenhower would hot have been able to launch D-Day without the Higgens boats that took men from ships to shore.  They were also used in the Italian campaign.  It is still a core part of US naval power.  It is the ability for a sea power to project power ashore.

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