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BATAAN (LHD-5) is the fifth ship to be christened into the WASP (LHD-1) Class of U.S. Navy Multipurpose Amphibious Assault Ships . The first four LHDs -- USS WASP (LHD-1), USS ESSEX (LHD-2), USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3) and USS BOXER (LHD-4) -- are already serving the Fleet around the world. Following BATAAN, which was commissioned in September 1997, are two additional LHDs, BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD-6) and IWO JIMA (LHD-7).
The principal mission of WASP Class ships is to enable the Navy/Marine Corps team to accomplish a seamless transition from the sea to a land battle, primarily as the command ship of an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). LHDs are specifically designed to lay off a troubled area of the world, and insert forces ashore by helicopters and 50 m.p.h. LCAC hover craft . The assault forces are provided combat air support by embarked AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL "jump-jets". One ship of the current class, USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3), served as the base ship for the successful rescue of Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady from Serbian-held territory in Bosnia.
In its role of commanding an Amphibious Ready Group, an LHD is fully capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions. Additionally, the ships are fully-equipped with command and control (C4I) systems for flagship command duty; and have medical facilities -- including a 600 bed hospital -- second only to the Navy's Hospital Ships in capability.
LHD-5 is the Navy's first amphibious assault ship designed and built from the keel up with accommodations for female sailors. This "Women at Sea" modification provides LHD-5 with living areas for nearly 450 female officers, chiefs, enlisted personnel and embarked troops. Overall, the ship has living areas for nearly 3,200 crew members and troops.
In carrying out its primary mission, BATAAN will transport and land ashore not only troops, but also the tanks, trucks and other vehicles, artillery, ammunition, and complete supplies necessary to fully support the assault.
The assault support system aboard ship coordinates horizontal and vertical movement of troops, cargo and vehicles. Monorail trains, moving at speeds up to 600-feet-per-minute, transport cargo and supplies from storage and staging areas throughout the ship to a 13,600-square foot well deck, which opens to the sea through huge gates in the ship's stern. There, the cargo, as well as troops and vehicles, are loaded aboard landing craft for transit to the beach. The LCAC air cushion landing craft can "fly" out of the dry well deck, or the well deck can be ballasted down for conventional craft to float out on their way to the beach.
Simultaneously, helicopters are brought from the hangar deck to the flight deck by two deck-edge elevators, and loaded with supplies from three massive cargo elevators.
LHD-5's armament system includes the NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (NSSMS) for antiair warfare protection, two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Systems and two Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) mounts to counter threats from low flying aircraft and close-in small craft. Six missile decoy launchers augment LHD-5's antiship missile defenses.
LHD-5 is 844 feet long, with a 106 foot beam. Two steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, drive the 40,500-ton ship to speeds in excess of 20 knots.
Fabrication work for BATAAN (LHD-5) began at the Ingalls Shipbuilding facility on August 2, 1993, and the ship's keel was laid on March 16, 1994. LHD-5 was launched on March 15, 1996.
BATAAN was built utilizing efficient preoutfitting and modular construction techniques. Hundreds of smaller subassemblies, in which piping sections, ventilation ducting and other shipboard hardware, as well as major machinery items, such as main propulsion equipment, generators, and electrical panels were constructed. The preoutfitted subassemblies were then joined with others to form assemblies which were welded together to form five completed hull and superstructure modules.
These five giant ship modules, each weighing thousands of tons, were joined together on land to form the completed ship's hull prior to launch. The result of this early outfitting and modular construction was a ship 74 percent complete at launch.
The ship's launching was just as innovative as her construction. LHD-5 was rolled from her construction area to a floating drydock for launch on a rail transfer system. The drydock was then positioned over a deep-water pit and ballasted down, allowing LHD-5 to float free.
LHD-5 entered service with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet when commissioned on 20 September 1997.