SASEBO, Japan -- Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) joined the U.S. 7th Fleet forward-deployed amphibious force in Sasebo, Dec. 6, after transiting the Pacific Ocean from its former homeport of San Diego.
"America’s Sailors and Marines are ready to join the high-performing team of 7th Fleet with our allies and partners to fulfill the enduring mission of our forward-deployed Naval Forces," said Capt. Luke Frost, America’s commanding officer. "We’re looking forward to integrating America’s flexible and adaptable fifth generation capabilities into theater to maintain peace and stability and contribute to the prosperity and security of the Indo-Pacific."
America was designed from inception to maximize the capabilities of the U.S. Marine Corp’s F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. America is adaptive and flexible with superior aviation facilities; advanced communications, combat systems and command and control equipment; and incredibly capable medical facilities.
Amphibious Squadron 11, part of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, integrates regularly with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to ensure the services are trained and ready to operate together to provide the most efficient amphibious fighting force in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Our entire team is thrilled to welcome the crew and families of USS America, a ship that is exceptionally well suited to support the full spectrum of military operations conducted by our forward-deployed force," said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7. "I could not think of a more fitting ship or namesake to play such a central role supporting the United States' commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of this vital region as we work together with our allies and partners to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific."
America replaces USS Wasp (LHD 1) as the U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward deployed amphibious assault ship. Wasp departed the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a scheduled transition Sept. 4. and returned to Norfolk, Virginia Nov. 18.
"With the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty fast approaching, USS America arrives at an important juncture in the history of our alliance, and she would be hard-pressed to find a port more welcoming than the one here in Sasebo," said John C. Taylor,
principal officer for the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan. "For decades, this city has been a gracious host to our Sailors. From the consulate, we look forward to using this occasion to further foster friendship and goodwill among our peoples."
Amphibious Squadron 11 also gained the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) Dec. 1 which also brings a host of warfighting capabilities to the 7th Fleet.
The U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south. Encompassing 36 maritime countries, approximately 50 percent of the world’s population also falls within its area of responsibility. As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors.