Amphibious Assault Ships ensure that U.S. Marines and their equipment safely reach target destinations.
Commonly known as "Commando Carriers," Amphibious Assault Ships are mostly used to transport Marines and their equipment into combat zones and targeted areas. Similar in appearance to an aircraft carrier, Amphibious Assault Ships are designed to carry and deploy aircraft. However, the ships primarily carry helicopters that are used to support Marines during ground assaults. They do not typically host fighter jets that are used for strike missions over enemy territory.
Amphibious Assault Ships have evolved from helicopter carriers. The ships flight decks support helicopters that carry soldiers and supplies into landed combat zones, as well as Harrier Jump Jets that provide air support during landing operations. And, while the flights decks are similar in design to those found on aircraft carriers, they do not contain the catapults and arresting wires that are used to launch and recover fighter jets.
The Suez War (1956)
Versions of Amphibious Assault Ships were used during the Battle of the Pacific in World War Two to land soldiers on island beaches. However, modern versions of the ships complete with helicopters did not develop until the invasion of Egypt during the Suez War of 1956. During that conflict, the British Royal Navy converted light fleet carriers to perform air assaults using helicopters.
The U.S. military further refined Amphibious Assault Ships during the Vietnam Conflict of the 1960s using smaller versions of aircraft carriers. Today, the ships are popular and in active duty with the British Royal Navy, the French Navy, the Italian Navy and the Spanish Navy.
Next Generation – The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
The U.S. military currently maintains the biggest amphibious ship fleet in the world. The Wasp-class ships manufactured by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems are the largest amphibious ships in the world.
The U.S. military is now in the process of developing the next class of large Amphibious Assault Ships. The next class of ships is being designed to accommodate the Marine Corps’ future air combat needs, which involve the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and MV-22 Osprey.