Keel Laid on Future USS Bougainville

PASCAGOULA, Miss. — The keel-laying and authentication ceremony for the future USS Bougainville (LHA 8) was held March 14 at the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Pascagoula shipyard, the Naval Sea Systems command said in a release.

The ship’s sponsor, Ellyn Dunford, authenticated the keel by having her initials welded into the keel plate.

Traditionally, keel laying marks the first step in ship construction. However, with today’s advanced modular shipbuilding, the keel-laying ceremony now recognizes the joining together of a ship’s components and is a major milestone in the ship’s construction. Fabrication of Bougainville began in October.

“We are honored to have Ellyn Dunford with us today to commemorate this milestone,” said Tom Rivers, Amphibious Warfare program manager, PEO Ships. “The production team has made steady progress and we look forward to bringing the next generation of amphibious capabilities to Navy and Marine Corps warfighters.”

The future USS Bougainville is the third ship of the America (LHA 6) class of amphibious assault ships built to facilitate forward presence and power projection. LHA 8 is the first Flight I ship of the America class with a reincorporated well deck to increase operational flexibility while maximizing the aviation capability inherent on the Flight 0 ships, USS America and the future USS Tripoli.

Designed to support the Marine Corps tenets of Operational Maneuver from the Sea and Ship-to-Objective Maneuver, America class ships are capable of rapid combat power buildup ashore the America class accommodates the Marine Corps’ Air Combat Element, including F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey, essential to maintaining power projection, air superiority and theater logistics.

HII’s Pascagoula shipyard also is in production on Tripoli (LHA 7), the guided-missile destroyers Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), and amphibious transport dock ships, Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) and Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29). The shipyard also is

under contract for six Flight III Arleigh Burke class destroyers awarded as part of the fiscal 2018-2022 multiyear procurement.