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Tarawa class

Amphibious assault ship

Tarawa class ship

The Tarawa class vessels formed an important component of the US Navy's assault fleet

 
 
Entered service 1976
Crew 964 men
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 249.9 m
Beam 31.8 m
Draught ?
Displacement, standard 39 400 tons
Displacement, full load 40 032 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 24 knots
Range ?
Boilers 2 x ?
Steam turbines 2 x ?
Cargo
Troops 1 900 men
Vehicles up to 200 armored vehicles
Cargo ?
Aircraft
Fixed wing up to 8 x AV-8B Harriers II
Helicopters up to 35 helicopters including CH-46 Sea Knights, CH-53 Sea Stalions, AH-1W Super Cobras, UH-1N Twin Hueys, V-22 Ospreys
Armament
Artillery 2 x Phalanx 20-mm CIWS, 4 x 25-mm Bushmaster cannons
Missiles 2 x 21-cell RAM launchers

 

   The Tarawa class LHA ships were intended to combine the capabilities of the helicopter carrier (LPH), the amphibious transport dock (LPD), the command ship (LCC) and the amphibious cargo ship (LKA) in a single hull. The class was originally to have numbered 9, but as a result of the end of the Vietnam War and budgetary constraints, the eventual number built was 5. The Ingalls shipyard built them by means of its multi-ship construction technique between 1971 and 1978.

   The ship's sides are vertical for some two-thirds of their length in order to maximize the internal space available for cargo. An 82-m long by 24 m wide hangar with a 6.1-m overhead is located above a similarly sized well deck set into the stern. The hangar is served by an 18 182-kg capacity side lift to port and a larger 36 364-kg capacity centreline lift at the stern. The docking well, vehicle deck, cargo holds and hangar deck are connected by a series of five elevators capable of carrying 1 000-kg palletised loads. The three forward elevators serve the vehicle deck and use a conveyor belt system, while the aft two elevators (located at the other end of the belt) serve both the well deck, where an overhead cargo-carrying monorail system takes the pallets onto the landing craft, and the hangar deck leads to the flight deck to allow direct loading of helicopters.

   Forward of the docking well (and connected to it and the flight deck by ramps) are the vehicle decks. These could normally accommodate 160 tracked vehicles, artillery pieces and trucks together with 40 AAV7A1 amphibious assault personnel carriers. The well deck could accommodate up to four LCUs or two LCUs and two LCM 8s or 17 LCM 6s. The four LCUs and eight of the AAV7A1s could be launched simultaneously from the well deck. The vessels normally carried two LCM 6s and two LCPLs stowed on deck for launch by a large deck crane. The aircraft hangar had the capacity for 26 CH-46E Sea Knight or 19 CH-53D Sea Stallion/CH53E Super Stallion helicopters, although the normal air group embarked tend to be either 12 CH-45Es, six CH-53D/Es, four AH-1W Super Cobra gunships and two UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopters; or six CH-46Es, nine CH-53D/ES, four AH-1Ws and two UH-1Ns. Both the AV-8 Harrier series and the OV-10 Bronco fixed-wing aircraft have also been operated, the former being a V/STOL close-support fighter and the latter a STOL observation/attack aircraft. A 464.5 m training and acclimatisation room was fitted for the 1 900-man reinforced US Marine battalion carried to exercise in a controlled environment.

   To act as an amphibious squadron flagship, the LHA was fitted with the Tactical Amphibious Warfare Data System (TAWDS) to provide command and control over the group's aircraft,  weapons, sensors and landing craft. The same satellite communications system and data links as fitted to othe LCCs was carried. Two of the LHAs were assigned to the Atlantic fleets while the other three were with the Pacific fleets.

   The Tarawa class formed the basis for the later Wasp class amphibious assault ships. In 2015 the last active ship of Tarawa class, the USS Peleliu,  was decommissioned. Three surviving ships are inactive and kept in reserve. The Tarawa class is being replaced with new and larger America class amphibious assault ships.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
USS Tarawa (LHA-1) 1971 1973 1976

decommissioned

USS Saipan (LHA-2) 1972 1974 1977

decommissioned

USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) 1973 1977 1978

decommissioned

USS Nassau (LHA-4) 1973 1978 1979

decommissioned

USS Peleliu (LHA-5) 1976 1978 1980

decommissioned

 

 

Video of the Tarawa class amphibious assault ship

 
Tarawa class ship

Tarawa class ship

Tarawa class ship

Tarawa class ship

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