The USS Tripoli (LHA-7) completed its Fitting Out Availability (FOA) on March 26 and is next set to undergo sea trials, the Navy said March 31.

The Navy accepted delivery of the second America-class amphibious assault ship from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] over a year ago (Defense Daily, Feb. 28, 2020).

As a “large deck amphib,” the ship will transport elements of a Marine Expeditionary Unit or Marine Expeditionary Brigade via aircraft and landing craft. LHA-7 is homeported in San Diego and will be the flagship of an Amphibious Ready Group once deployed.

This FOA involves changes to the ship from lessons learned and feedback from sister ship USS America’s (LHA-6) availability as well as work postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Navy noted that work completed during the FOA “ directly supports the vessel’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) capability, including onboard space reconfiguration and preparing for advanced logistical systems installment.”

The Tripoli is an amphibious assault ship variant designed to accommodate the Marine Corps’ F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey.

The ship is next set to go underway for sea trials when the crew will start operating systems to validate performance including navigation, damage control, mechanical and electrical systems, combat systems, communications and propulsion applications.

The service reiterated LHA-7 includes some components to provide a more aviation-centric platform than other amphibious ships. This includes an enlarged hangar deck, aviation maintenance facilities realignment and expansion, an increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and larger aviation fuel capacity. The Tripoli noticeably does not include a well deck to allow room for the additional aviation spaces.

“This amphibious assault ship is ready to provide critical capabilities in supporting overall mission readiness to the Sailors and Marines of the Pacific Fleet. With its enhanced JSF capability, this ship meets the operational needs of today, while providing capacity for the future fight,” Capt. Cedric McNeal, program manager for Amphibious Warfare Programs, said in a statement.

The next steps for the ship are that it will enter a Post-Delivery Test and Trials phase, then Final Contract Trials with the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) before a Post-Shakedown Availability. Only then will it be available for national tasking.

“The combined post-delivery and Tripoli team completed six months of depot-level work on time, a significant accomplishment in this COVID environment. The crew is ready to take the ship to sea to complete bow-to-stern testing to prove the combat effectiveness of assault carrier 7,” Capt. Joel Lang, Tripoli’s commanding officer, added.

LHA-7 was administratively commissioned last July, foregoing a traditional public ceremony amid the pandemic (Defense Daily, July 17, 2020).