Ingalls Authenticates Keel of LHA 8
The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the America-class amphibious warship USS Bougainville (LHA 8) was held at the Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division (HII), yesterday (March 14).
The ship’s sponsor, Ellyn Dunford, spouse of Gen. Joe Dunford, 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared the keel "truly and fairly laid" after her initials were welded onto a plate.
Traditionally, keel laying marks the first step in ship construction. However, with today’s advanced modular shipbuilding, the keel laying ceremony now recognizes the joining together of a ship’s components and is a major milestone in the ship’s construction. Fabrication of Bougainville began in October 2018.
Bougainville will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck. The well deck will give the U.S. Marine Corps the ability to house and launch two landing craft air cushion (LCAC) hovercraft or one landing craft utility (LCU) as needed during their maritime missions.
Other additions to Bougainville include a larger flight deck configured for Joint Strike Fighter and Osprey V-22 aircraft, which can be used for surface and aviation assaults. The additional area on the flight deck comes in part from a smaller deck house and an additional sponson.
“We are honored to have Ellyn Dunford with us today to commemorate this milestone,” said Tom Rivers, Amphibious Warfare Program Manager, at the Navy’s PEO Ships. “The production team has made steady progress and we look forward to bringing the next generation of amphibious capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps warfighters.”
LHA 8 will be the second Navy vessel to bear the name Bougainville. The name commemorates the Bougainville Campaign that took place during World War II. During the campaign, which lasted from 1943 to 1944, Allied forces secured a strategic airfield from Japan in the northern Solomon Islands, helping the allies break the Japanese stronghold in the South Pacific.
Ingalls is currently the sole builder of large-deck amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy. The shipyard delivered its first amphibious assault ship, the Iwo Jima-class USS Tripoli (LPH 10), in 1966. Ingalls has since built five Tarawa-class (LHA 1) ships, eight Wasp-class (LHD 1) ships and the first in a new class of ships, America (LHA 6). The second ship in the class, Tripoli (LHA 7) is currently under construction and Bougainville (LHA 8) is the third ship in the class.