The Wasp (LHD-1)-class helicopter-carrying dock landing ship Iwo Jima (LHD -7), launched on 4 February 2000 by Ingalls Shipbuilding, probably will be the last conventional steam-turbine-powered warship built for the U.S. Navy if plans not to request authorization for LHD-8 until fiscal year 2005 remain in effect. LHD-8 is to be powered by gas turbines, a proposal originally made in the mid-1980s by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. The 40,532-ton (full-load displacement), 844-foot Wasp class currently is powered by the same plant that was introduced in the mid-1970s with the Tarawa (LHA-1): two highly automated Combustion Engineering boilers providing steam to two sets of Westinghouse geared steam turbines capable of delivering up to 77,000 total shaft horsepower. This launch-day view of the Iwo Jima shows the massive stern gate leading to the 322-foot floodable well that can accommodate three aircushion landing craft.
By A.D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World