Sailor man the rails
Sailors “man the rails” as the USS Tripoli prepares to leave Naval Base San Diego. Navy photo

The USS Tripoli, the Navy’s newest “big deck” amphibious vessel, quietly departed San Diego this week on its first deployment, according to published reports.

The nonprofit U.S. Naval Institute service said the warship left Monday on an independent mission to the Western Pacific. A webcam image showed the ship passing Coronado

The 45,000-ton vessel arrived in San Diego just a month after the USS Bonhomme Richard, an older amphibious assault ship, was largely destroyed by a suspected arson fire at Naval Base San Diego.

The new ship has been practicing what the Navy calls a “Lightning Carrier” concept by loading up to 20 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters to provide additional firepower. Typically an amphibious assault ship carries primarily helicopters and tiltrotors and just five vertical takeoff jets.

The idea is to bring more aerial firepower to bear in a potential battle off the coast of China.

In addition to its 11 nuclear-powered supercarriers, the Navy has nine amphibious assault ships, which are similar in size the the carriers operated by Russian and China.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.