Huntington Ingalls Industries – Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII-Ingalls) division started fabrication on the future USS Fallujah (LHA 9), Dec. 19.

The start of fabrication signifies the shipyard is ready for sustained production after a successful production readiness review. This milestone is marked by the first 100 tons of steel being cut for the ship and that the shipyard is ready to move forward with the construction of the ship.

“We are excited to announce that fabrication has started on the fourth ship of the America class,” said Captain Cedric McNeal, Amphibious Warfare program manager for Program Executive Office Ships. “We look forward to achieving future production milestones as we work to deliver this versatile and capable warship to the Fleet.”

The LHA Replacement Program, also known as USS America (LHA 6) class, is replacing the original five Tarawa-class LHAs, which have all been decommissioned. The America-class is a multi-functional and versatile ship that is capable of operating in a high density, multi-threat environment. LHA 9 will be the second Flight I ship and will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design, while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck and a larger flight deck configured for F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey aircraft. It will also provide additional cargo stowage capacities and enable a broader, more flexible command and control capability.

HII’s Pascagoula shipyard is also currently in production on the Bougainville (LHA 8), destroyers the future Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), Ted Stevens (DDG 128), Jeremiah Denton (DDG 129), and George M. McNeal (DDG 131), as well as the future Richard M. McCool Jr (LPD 29), Harrisburg (LPD 30) and Pittsburgh (LPD 31).