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Fabrication begins on US Navy's amphibious assault ship

LPD 26. Photo by Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.

PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI (BNS): Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, has begun construction on the US Navy's newest amphibious assault ship, John P Murtha (LPD 26).

The company was recently awarded a $1.5 billion contract to build the USS San Antonio-class ship at the Pascagoula facility.

The next milestone for LPD 26 will be the ship's keel laying, scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. LPD 26 is scheduled to be launched in the third quarter of 2014 and delivered to the Navy in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the company.

The San Antonio-class ships are 684 feet long and 105 feet wide and displace approximately 25,000 tons. Their principal mission is to deploy the combat and support elements of Marine Expeditionary Units and Brigades.

The ships can carry up to 800 troops and have the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing crafts, augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft such as the MV-22. These ships will support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.

Ingalls Shipbuilding has delivered the first five ships of the LPD 17 class, LPDs 17-21. San Diego (LPD 22) will undergo sea trials later this year; Anchorage is currently 82 percent complete and is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2012; Arlington (LPD 24) was christened on March 26, and Somerset (LPD 25) is more than 50 percent complete and will be launched in 2012.

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