An F-35B Lighting II from Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 touched down on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) on January 11, marking the first time the ship has landed the new fifth-generation fighter. Tripoli has been steadily operating and training the crew in preparation for the underway flight operations with VMFA-122, which culminated in the fixed-wing certification for the ship. Bringing the aircraft to the ship required a lot of coordination between Tripoli and the Marines who operate the fighter. The Sailors who comprise the flight deck crew have trained their entire careers to run flight operations, and they worked efficiently and safely while accomplishing this milestone.
“It was an honor to support Tripoli in accomplishing such an important event. The Marines and pilots from VMFA-122 and (Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron) VMX-1 are excited to see Tripoli achieve its fixed-wing flight certification,” said Maj. Randy Brazile, the landing signal officer embarked from VMFA-225.
“Everything flowed perfectly. We did everything we practiced for. I got to launch the first jet ever from Tripoli; it was a good feeling. We’re all very excited to do it again,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Paul Salame.
“This is what Tripoli was built for. The crew and supporting organizations have worked incredibly hard to get us to the point where we can launch and recover aircraft, rising to every challenge the Navy has put before them since we commissioned. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished. The crew has sacrificed time away from their families and friends to accomplish our mission. Days like today prove that the time those families have given us isn’t wasted,” said Capt. Joel Lang, amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli’s Commanding Officer.
USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is the second America-class amphibious assault ship built for the United States Navy, commissioned in July 2020. The ship is homeported in San Diego and operates under the commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3. The design of Tripoli is based on USS Makin Island, which is itself an improved version of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Approximately 45% of the Flight 0 design is based on LHD-8, with the good deck removed to allow more room for aircraft and aviation fuel. The removal of the good deck for landing craft allows for an extended hangar deck with two significantly wider high bay areas, each fitted with an overhead crane for aircraft maintenance.