Friday, April 17, 2009

US Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Makin Island

In this December 2008 file photo, pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD 8) departs the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Gulf Coast shipyard for five days of Builder's Trials to tests a wide variety of systems and equipment. More than 100 Makin Island Sailors were embarked to observe and monitor the testing conducted be Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding personnel. Makin Island, scheduled for commissioning Oct. 24, 2009 in San Diego, will be the Navy's eighth and final Wasp Class amphibious assault ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alec Noe.)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2009 -- The Navy officially accepted delivery of the amphibious assault ship Makin Island (LHD 8) on April 16 from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) in Pascagoula, Miss.

"Our partners at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding have worked hard to deliver this ship," said Capt. Jeff Riedel, amphibious ships program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "Makin Island's state-of-the-art gas turbines and Auxiliary Propulsion System will benefit the Navy for years to come."

Makin Island will be the eighth Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Second only to aircraft carriers in size, LHDs are the largest amphibious warships
in the world.

Makin Island is distinguished from its predecessors in the class by its fuel-efficient hybrid electric drive.

This powerful class is 844 feet long, can reach speeds of more than 20 knots, and has a displacement of more than 41,000 tons. Wasp-class amphibious assault 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.

"With concerns over shrinking budgets, we're delivering APS at the perfect time," said Riedel. "Our estimates show that APS will save the Navy more than $21 million in fuel costs over the ship's lifecycle."

This unique auxiliary propulsion system (APS) is designed with fuel efficiency in mind. Instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid. The ship will be able to use its APS approximately 75% of the time, replacing the less-efficient gas turbines.

Other significant changes from previous LHD-class ships include watermist fire suppression systems, a fiber-optic Machinery Control System -- which is also integrated with the damage control systems -- the SPQ-9B radar and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC).

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, along with the other ships of an Amphibious Ready Group, embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support a Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,000 Marines with their gear.

Prior to delivery, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) completed Acceptance Trials aboard Makin Island on March 19 after spending three days at sea. INSURV found the ship to be "capable, well-built and inspection-ready" and recommended that the chief of Naval Operations authorize delivery of the ship. All major systems and equipment were tested by INSURV.

The commissioning ceremony for Makin Island will be held in October in the ship's future homeport of San Diego.

The Navy's Program Executive Office, 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 28 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 20 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

(Report from a Team Ships Public Affairs news release.)

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