U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) on Thursday applauded the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Navy and Huntington Ingalls for LHA 7, the second ship of the America-class amphibious assault ships. This MOA is a preliminary step toward the eventual award of the contract later this year.
Amphibious assault ships are built solely at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula and are responsible for thousands of jobs in South Mississippi. Building the next Amphibious Warship continues the long standing relationship between the U.S. Navy, Mississippi, and Huntington Ingalls.
"This agreement has been a long time in the making, so its consummation is an important step in the process to providing Marines with a modern, amphibious ship. Progress on this front is important to the nation and to Mississippi as the Navy looks for ways to meet future amphibious force requirements. I look forward to the Navy and industry coming to contract agreements on other shipbuilding programs already appropriated for by Congress" said Cochran, who as vice chairman of the Senate Defense Subcommittee on Tuesday discussed shipbuilding production rates at a hearing with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Navy commanders.
"The economic prosperity of the United States and the free world is directly related to ensuring the freedom of the seas," said Wicker, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. "As we draw down our forces in Europe and the Middle East, and focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the Navy and Marine Corps will serve as the lynchpin of American force projection abroad. The amphibious ships built at Ingalls will help enable our troops to meet any challenges that may face our country in the future."
"Big Deck Amphibs - like the LHA-7 - are performing a wide variety of missions around the world today," stated Congressman Steven Palazzo. "They are a key multi-mission asset for our Navy and Marine Corps that allow our forces to respond to threats and humanitarian missions at a moment's notice. When finished, this ship will serve as further proof that we still build the greatest warships the world has ever seen, right here in South Mississippi."
Amphibious assault ships enable the Navy and Marine Corps to project power throughout the world. The America-class amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver a Marine Expeditionary Brigade using rotary lift and fixed wing aircraft. Ingalls is currently building LHA 6 for the Navy.
Combatant Commander demand for amphibious warships has increased over 80 percent in the last five years.
Huntington Ingalls Industries builds amphibious ships, destroyers, and the Coast Guard's National Security Cutter at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula.