The Navy’s new big-deck America-class amphibious assault ship is making its way around South America as part of a mission to connect with allies in the southern hemisphere and prepare the ship for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
The USS America, the first in a series of 11 planned America class amphibs for the Navy, is configured with more deck space than previous ships of its kind in order to accommodate a range of aircraft — including MV-22 Ospreys and the F-35B Short-Take-Off-and-Landing Joint Strike Fighter.
The ship is currently transiting around off the coast of South America, conducting joint training exercises with a host of key allies such as Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Chile and Peru, Hall explained.
“This is as close to a deployment as I’ve ever been on, with the four Osprey and three H-60s that we have along with the special purpose MAGTF (Marine Corps Air-Ground Task Force),” he added.
The integrated training exercises involve security and communications operations with different countries as well as medical asset coordination and mission planning activities, Hall said.
The ship’s MV-22 Ospreys have been flying into allied countries to pick up and deliver distinguished visitors to the ship, he explained.
“We’re getting our crew familiar with the ship through hands on training. The Ospreys are giving us a great opportunity to learn the flight deck and learn the hangar. Most of my crew is on their first mission,” Hall explained. “This is a brand new crew which is pulling together. They have been performing as a solid team, going above and beyond. My hat is off to their dedication and motivation they have been working very hard.”