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Amphibious assault ship

The amphibious assault ship, usually called an amphib, is a class of warship employed by the United States Navy. It is used primarily to deliver Marines to combat zones. Twelve amphibs have been built, all of which remain in active service. The older amphibs belong to the Tarawa class, which dates back to the 1970s. The newer Wasp class amphibs debuted in 1989.

Amphibs resemble aircraft carriers, and do in fact carry a small number of Harrier jet attack planes. They are only about 75% the length of carriers of the U.S. Navy, though they are somewhat larger than the carriers of other navies.


Primary landing ships, resembling small aircraft carriers, designed to put troops on hostile shores.


Modern U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships are called upon to perform as primary landing ships for assault operations of Marine expeditionary units. These ships use Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC a type of hovercraft), conventional landing craft and helicopters to move Marine assault forces ashore. In a secondary role, using AV-8B Harrier aircraft and anti-submarine warfare helicopters, these ships perform sea control and limited power projection missions.


Amphibious warships are uniquely designed to support assault from the sea against defended positions ashore. They must be able to sail in harm's way and provide a rapid built-up of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. The United States maintains the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world. The Wasp-class are the largest amphibious ships in the world. The lead ship, USS Wasp (LHD 1), was commissioned in July 1989 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Wasp Class