PASCAGOULA, Miss. -- The U.S. Navy officially accepted delivery of the amphibious assault ship America (LHA 6) from Huntington Ingalls Industries during a ship custody transfer ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss., April 10.
More than 900 Sailors and Marines assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) America marched to the ship to take custody on the flight deck.
During the event, Capt. Robert A. Hall, Jr., commanding officer of America, signed the official paperwork, granting custody of the ship to the U.S. Navy.
Hall said today is a great day for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team, Huntington Ingalls Industries and our country.
"Since the keel was laid in 2009, literally thousands of proud patriotic men and women have been designing, building, installing, testing, outfitting and training the crew of America, and I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank them all," said Hall.
Hall also thanked the crew for the outstanding efforts and dedication they have displayed thus far in building a foundation of excellence.
"What we do from this point forward will dictate what kind of warship America will be. The high standards we'll set and maintain, the professionalism we'll exhibit, and the culture of teamwork and family that we'll promote, will ensure America's success long into the future."
Command Master Chief (SW/AW/FMF) Chad Lunsford said that since the first Sailor reported in 2012 the command has been working diligently to complete instructions, training and qualifications required for the command to operate successfully. Establishing ship programs, such as maintenance, damage control and sponsorship, have also been essential throughout the pre-commissioning process.
"This is an awesome day," said Lunsford. "We have been building this team for over two years, and today close to 1,100 Sailors and Marines come together as one team to take custody of our nation's newest Navy ship. This is a proud moment for America, our ship, our country!"
America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tarawa-class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, America will be optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft, such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and the Joint Strike Fighter.
The ship will provide flexible, multi-mission capabilities spanning from forward-deployed crisis response to maritime security operations.
America is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and hosts a displacement of 44,971 long tons. Her propulsion system will drive it to speeds in excess of 22 knots, and she will accommodate a crew size of more than 1,100 Sailors and nearly 1,900 embarked Marines.
With the ship custody transfer complete, the crew is now working and living aboard the ship. After a rigorous evaluation and certification cycle, the ship will depart Mississippi and transit around South America to her future homeport of San Diego. America is scheduled to be commissioned late 2014 in San Francisco.