The Wasp class Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious assault ships provide the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement by helicopter and by landing craft. The ships can accommodate the landing craft utility and landing craft air cushion; can operate all helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft flown by the Marine Corps; and can operate and support AV-8B and F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. They have extensive storage capacity and have proven very useful in combat operations, major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
A total of 8 Wasp-class ships were built and 7 are active. The USS Bonhomme Richard LHD- 6 was extensively damaged by fire beginning July 12, 2020, while being upgraded in San Diego. The ship was decommissioned and sold for scrap.
Keel laid: March 20, 1989
Launched: February 23, 1991
Commissioned: October 17, 1992
Builder: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems- formerly Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, MS
Cost: Their average cost is ~ $1.9 billion in 2020 dollars
Propulsion system: Two boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 shaft horse power – 52,000 kW (electricity) – Speed: 20+ knots
Propellers: 2 fixed pitch
Length: 844.0 feet (257.25 m)
Beam: 106 feet (32.3 m)
Draft: 27 feet (8.1 m)
Displacement: approx. 40,650 long tons – full load
Armament: 2 RAM launchers, 2 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers, 3 20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts, 4 .50-caliber machine guns, 4 25 mm Mk38 machine guns. Various electronic warfare and decoy systems.
Aircraft: F-35B Lightning II, AV-8B Harrier II and MV-22 Osprey aircraft; CH-53 Sea Stallion, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. Two aircraft elevators move aircraft between the hanger and flight deck.
Well deck capacity: 3 Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) or 2 Landing Craft Utility (LCU) or 12 Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM).
Cargo: The Wasp-class ships are designed to carry a balanced force of combat vehicles.
Medical: Onboard hospital with 64 patient beds & 6 operating rooms.
Crew: Ship: 66 officers, 1,004 enlisted
Marine Detachment: Each ship is capable of hosting 1,687 (plus 184 surge) Marines; almost the full strength of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Commanding Officer: Captain Aaron Taylor
Homeport: San Diego, CA