The Navy and Marine Corps amphibious fleet is on the cusp of two major changes – the introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter and the growth of the fleet from 30 to 33 ships – that will change the way the fleet trains and fights, the director of expeditionary warfare told USNI News.
Maj. Gen. Chris Owens, who took over the expeditionary warfare directorate (OPNAV N95) four months ago, said in a Dec. 10 interview that his biggest priority in this new job is amphibious fleet readiness – having the maximum amount of ships deployed or ready to deploy, and ensuring those ships are maintained and modernized to stay relevant throughout their entire service lives.
To that end, the fleet stands to make some important gains in the coming years. F-35B integration efforts will bring greater capability to existing ships, helping them leverage the fifth-generation fighter capability and operate more effectively with the rest of the Navy’s surface fleet. And the larger number of ships in the amphibious fleet open up opportunities for single-ship deployments, taking on more missions in the Pacific and providing better training to sailors and Marines.