The US Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) shipbuilding division a USD 2.4 billion contract to build the LHA 9 Amphibious Assault Ship, which would be the fourth vessel of the AMERICA class. Construction on LHA 9 is scheduled to begin in December 2022, and the contract includes options, that if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to USD 3.2 billion. Previously, HII had been awarded the original long-lead-time material contract for LHA 9 on 30 April 2020.
Ingalls has a long tradition of building large-deck amphibious ships for the US Navy and Marine Corps. The shipyard has delivered 15 large-decks, including the Tarawa class (LHA 1-5), the Wasp class (LHD 1-8), and more recently the America class (LHA 6-7). The third vessel in the America class, USS BOUGAINVILLE (LHA 8), is currently under construction, having been laid down on 14 March 2019. The America class is a multifunctional ship, capable of operating as a member of an expeditionary strike group, an amphibious task force or an amphibious ready group. LHA 9, like BOUGAINVILLE, will retain the aviation capability of the AMERICA class design while adding a well deck and a larger flight deck configured for F-35B LIGHTNING II and MV-22 OSPREY aircraft. Ships of the class also include high-end medical facilities.