SAN DIEGO, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Improvements to the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) are 75 percent complete and expected to be completed in March, the service reported.
The improvements by the ship's crew and contractors come during the ship's post-shakedown availability, which began last summer.
"One of the big challenges with LHA 6 is that it is the first of its class," said post-delivery hull manager Michael Galecki. "Even with its similarities to the LHD class, there has been nothing like it before."
The USS America was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries and commissioned into service in late 2014. It is designed to put ashore a Marine Expeditionary Unit using helicopters and MV-22B Osprey V/STOL aircraft. It can also be used as a small aircraft carrier.
The Navy said about 80 percent of improvements to the ship include adapting the flight deck for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
"A major improvement done is the back-fitting of JSF upgrades to allow the ship to support these aircraft in future deployments," said Galecki. "The upgrades consist of the complete overhaul of the flight deck's non-skid and the addition of a thermal coating called thermion."
Other flight deck renovations include improving maintenance capabilities in the hangar bay and bringing the cargo and weapons elevator up to new safety standards.