USS America (LHA 6), the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, conducted a bilateral fueling-at-sea (FAS) with Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender (D 36) while operating with elements of the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08) Carrier Strike Group (CSG-21) in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 20. This is the first time in history a U.S. amphibious ship has conducted a FAS with a British warship, and the third time America has refueled a partner nation at sea this summer. Demonstrating a sustainment capacity unique to its class of amphibious assault ships, America refueled the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) on July 27 during Talisman Sabre 21. Little more than a week later on Aug. 7, America consecutively refueled Ballarat and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Makinami (DD 112).
“By conducting this ground-breaking replenishment-at-sea in the Indo-Pacific we have further demonstrated our flexibility and interoperability with the UK’s most important strategic ally and partner,” said Cmdr. Vincent Owen, Defender’s commanding officer. “I’d like to thank the captain and crew of USS America for their professionalism in ensuring this unprecedented evolution was conducted safely and professionally and I look forward to working further with the U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group 7 over the coming days.”
“The America Team thoroughly enjoyed having our Royal Navy brethren alongside today,” said Capt. Ken Ward, America’s commanding officer. “Today’s operations with Defender not only extended their operational time on station to support our combined missions, it provided another opportunity to demonstrate our interoperability with our allies and partners as we train and operate across a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
HMS Defender is the fifth of the Type 45 or Daring-class air-defence destroyers built for the Royal Navy. She is the eighth ship to bear the name. Construction of Defender began in 2006, and she was launched in 2009. The ship completed her first sea trials in October and November 2011, and was commissioned during March 2013. Defender’s construction began at the BAE Systems Naval Ships (now part of BAE Systems Surface Ships) yard at Govan on the River Clyde in July 2006. The launch date was 21 October 2009. The Type 45 destroyer, also known as the D or Daring class, is a class of six guided missile destroyers built for the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy in the early 21st century. The class is primarily designed for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare and is built around the PAAMS (Sea Viper) air-defence system utilising the SAMPSON AESA and the S1850M long-range radars.
USS America (LHA-6), is an amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy and the lead ship of her class. The fourth U.S. warship to be named for the United States of America, she was delivered in spring of 2014, replacing Peleliu of the Tarawa class. Her mission is to act as the flagship of an expeditionary strike group or amphibious ready group, carrying part of a Marine expeditionary unit into battle and putting them ashore with helicopters and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, supported by F-35B Lightning II aircraft and helicopter gunships. With a displacement of 45,000 tons, she is as large as many other countries’ aircraft carriers and can fulfill similar missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. America’s original homeport was San Diego, California, until in 2019 it was changed to Sasebo, Japan.