The future USS Makin Island (LHD 8) successfully underwent Builder's Trials Dec. 13 in the Gulf of Mexico. The trials mark the first time this amphibious assault ship has gone to sea on its own power.
"The ship performed very well during these trials," said Capt. Jeff Riedel, the amphibious ships program manager in the Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. "The Navy and industry team is overcoming many challenges in delivering this ship, and we look forward to it joining the fleet."
These trials, conducted by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB), made history in two ways. Makin Island is the first LHD to get underway on gas turbine engines and the first LHD to get underway on electric propulsion motors. Makin Island's first-of-kind hybrid gas turbine electric drive propulsion system will provide substantial fuel savings and increased operational flexibility over the life of the ship. The ship also tested its engineering systems, fire control radar, air control radars and self defense systems. The ship will conduct a follow on Builder's Trial in late January to complete some additional engineering phases of the trials.
"On the bridge we were observing the plant status on the Machinery Control Console when we reduced speed on one shaft," said Prospective Commanding Officer Capt. Robert Kopas. "This gave us the opportunity to experience one of the unique features of MCS (machinery control system) in that the system automatically brought the other shaft up to compensate and keep the ordered speed. Typically, on most other ships you would have to manually order that to happen."
Second only to aircraft carriers in size, Wasp-class amphibious assault ships are the largest amphibious ships in the world. These ships are specifically designed to remain off shore near troubled areas of the world, ready to send forces ashore quickly by helicopters, tilt rotor aircraft and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft. As the centerpiece of a Navy Expeditionary Strike Group, LHDs are fully capable of conducting and supporting amphibious assaults, advance force and special purpose operations, non-combatant evacuation, and other humanitarian missions. LHDs embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support a Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,000 Marines with their gear.
LHD 8 will continue construction, tests and trials at the NGSB shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is scheduled to begin acceptance trials in February 2009 and is expected to deliver to the fleet later that year.
The Navy's PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships, and is currently managing the design and construction of 11 major ship classes and a wide range of small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. Since its creation in November 2002, PEO Ships has delivered 27 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 20 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.
(Source: Navy News Service)