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 attack planes. They are only about 75% the length of carries of the U.S. Navy, though they are somewhat larger than the carriers of other navies.
Primary landing ships, resembling small aircraft carriers, designed to put troops on hostile shores.
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), 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.
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, Va.
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
Ships: *USS Wasp (LHD 1), Norfolk, Va. *USS Essex (LHD 2), Sasebo, Japan *USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Norfolk, Va. *USS Boxer (LHD 4), San Diego, Calif. *USS Bataan (LHD 5), Norfolk, Va. *USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), San Diego, Calif. *USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) - Norfolk, Va.
*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 (USS Wasp)
Builders: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss. Power Plant: Two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total shaft horsepower Length: 820 feet (249.9 meters) Beam: 106 feet (31.8 meters) Displacement: 39,400 tons (40,032 metric tons) full load Speed: 24 knots (27.6 miles per hour)
Aircraft: (Actual mix depends upon mission)
*Nine CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters *Twelve CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters *Six AV-8B Harrier attack planes
*USS Tarawa (LHA 1), San Diego, Calif. *USS Saipan (LHA 2), Norfolk, Va. *USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3), San Diego, Calif. *USS Nassau (LHA 4), Norfolk, Va. *USS Peleliu (LHA 5), San Diego, Calif.
Ships Company: 82 officers, 882 enlisted Marine Detachment 1,900 plus
Armament: Two RAM launchers; two 5 inch/54 cal. MK-45 lightweight guns; two Phalanx 20 mm CIWS mount; four .50 cal. machine guns; four 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns
Date Deployed: May 29, 1976 (USS Tarawa)