Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries on Monday started fabrication for construction of the America-class amphibious assault ship USS Bougainville, or LHA 8, for the U.S. Navy.
The Bougainville is the third America-class amphibious assault ship and first Flight I ship constructed for the Navy.
"Bougainville represents the next generation of amphibious capabilities and is a key component to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy," James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said in a press release. "The ability to both support Joint Strike Fighter and put Marines ashore will ensure that the Amphibious Fleet remains agile and capable of expeditionary warfare well into the 21st century."
The design of the USS Bougainville will combine both aviation and surface assault capability. Features for the 257-meter ship will include a well deck for the U.S. Marine Corps to launch and store two landing craft air cushion hovercraft or one landing craft utility for maritime missions.
The Bougainville will also contain a large flight deck to support the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Osprey V-22 aircraft, used for surface and air combat.
The vessel is the second Navy ship named Bougainville, named for the World War II campaign that allowed allied forces to gain a strategic advantage over Japan.
The vessel joins several others currently under production in HII's Pascagoula shipyard, including LHA 7, the USS Tripoli, four Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and the amphibious transport docks Fort Lauderdale and Richard M. McCool Jr.
"The start of Bougainville, our 16th large-deck amphib, allows us to continue the serial production of these great ships," Brian Cuccias, president of HII Shipbuilding, said in a press release. "Working with the Navy and Marine Corps, we will take advantage of our hot production line and a healthy nationwide supplier base to continue providing these much-needed ships for the defense of our nation and the world's sea lanes."