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The Wasp-class amphibious assault ships' of the United States Navy are designed to land forces on hostile shores, and they are the largest vessels of this type in service anywhere in the world. They are named after former aircraft carriers, United States Marine Corps battles such as the , and previous amphibious assault ships. The Wasp-class has an air group of helicopters that are used to ferry Marines and equipment to the shore from the ships. These helicopters are supplemented by a squadron of up to eight AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL ground-attack aircraft. Up to 20 Harriers can be embarked when the ship is used as a temporary STOL or "Harrier Carrier." They also possess a "well"-deck for launching smaller landing craft, up to three Landing Craft Air Cushion hovercraft or Landing Craft Utility (LCUs). The Wasp-class ship design was derived from the earlier Tarawa-class design. The Tarawa-class ships have a "notched" flight deck, and also forward sponsons which originally carried two 54_caliber_Mark_45_gun" href="/5"/54_caliber_Mark_45_gun">5-inch Mk 45 naval guns, whereas the Wasp-class warships have a squared-off forward flight deck and no forward sponsons. In addition, the Wasp-class warships are 24 feet longer in overall length to better accommodate the LCAC landing craft. Each Wasp-class warship has a hospital with 600 patient beds and six operating rooms.

The entire Wasp-class has been built at the Ingalls Shipbuilding company, in Pascagoula, Mississippimarker. The first warship of this class, the was commissioned on July 29 1989.



Image:Lhd1 uss wasp209.jpg|Port quarter view of Wasp, showing LCACImage:USS Essex Foal Eagle 2007.jpg|Well deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) with a landing craft utility about to depart.


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