Pascagoula, Mississippi - The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS America (LHA 6) from Huntington Ingalls Industries today.

America, the lead ship of the class, is the first of the Navy's next generation amphibious assault ships which replaces the aging Tarawa class. Delivery marks the official turnover of custody of the ship from the shipbuilder to the U.S. Navy.

"This is a great Navy and Marine Corps day," said Capt. Christopher Mercer, Amphibious Warfare program manager for the Program Executive Office, Ships. "This ship's delivery will bring significant new capability in both amphibious assault and aviation support, while enhancing forward presence around the world."

America completed sea trials in February, with no major deficiencies identified. Following delivery, the commissioning crew will move aboard and begin shipboard training in preparation for ship sail away. The ship's commissioning is slated for late 2014 in San Francisco.

The ship will provide forward presence and power projection throughout the world as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. Her addition to the fleet brings not only added amphibious capabilities, but also further aviation capabilities as she will be able to handle current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter.

LHA 6 uses the same zonal electrical distribution, electric auxiliary systems, and auxiliary propulsion system as the USS Makin Island (LHD 8), resulting in lower fuel, maintenance and lifecycle costs. By using these proven systems, the U.S. Navy is avoiding design and development costs often associated with a first in class ship.

America is the first ship of the Amphibious Assault Replacement Program, LHA(R). The LHA 6 design removes the traditional well deck to include space for an enlarged hangar deck, expanded aviation maintenance facilities, and an increase in available stowage for parts, support equipment and aviation fuel. America spans an expansive 844 feet, displaces an impressive 44,971 long tons and can operate at speeds of over 20 knots.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Delivering high-quality war fighting assets - while balancing affordability and capability - is key to supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy and the future of U.S. Maritime strength.