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    USS Helmand Province: Honoring the Marines’ Enduring Sacrifice in Afghanistan

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    USS America (LHA 6) is underway alongside USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    In a tribute to the courage and sacrifices of U.S. Marines and Sailors, the future America-class amphibious warship will bear the name USS Helmand Province, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced during a keynote at the Modern Day Marine conference.

    USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10) and USS America (LHA 6) conduct an underway replenishment.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The dedication of the vessel, referred to as LHA-10, honors nearly two decades of American military involvement in the rugged and formidable terrains of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a central battleground in the effort to bring stability and security to the region.

    “AV-8B Harrier on the USS Peleliu (LHA-5)” / USS Peleliu (LHA-5) in Hong Kong / 香港全景攝影 Hong Kong Panoramic Photography / SML.20130418.6D.01277-SML.20130418.6D.01286-Pano.Rectilinear-16×10” by See-ming Lee (SML) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The naming ceremony was steeped in naval tradition, where amphibious assault ships are christened after notable Marine Corps battles, reflecting a history of valor and the profound commitment of the armed forces.

    USS America (LHA 6) approaches USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) for a replenishment-at-sea” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Del Toro, while making the announcement, remarked, “I am honored to announce today that the future LHA-10 will be named USS Helmand Province, recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of our Marines and Sailors who fought for almost 20 years in the mountains of Afghanistan.”

    USS America (LHA 6) conducts a replenishment-at-sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The Helmand campaign, which ran from 2009 to 2014, was not just any theater of war; it was the nexus of the opium trade, a Taliban stronghold, and presented as daunting a landscape as any encountered by the U.S. military.

    LHA-1 Floats 1973” by Eli Dark is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Reflecting on his experiences, Gen. Eric Smith, the Marine commandant who commanded the Regimental Combat Team 8 in 2011, spoke about the significance of Helmand province.

    World Airways (Finnair) DC-10-30; OH-LHA, January 1995” by Aero Icarus is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Gen. Eric Smith stressed the crucial role of Helmand in the mission to establish stability and security in a challenging environment.

    200313-N-BT681-1013” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    He expressed his admiration for the outstanding conduct of the Marines, sailors, and their allies and partners, showcasing what it truly means to lead in military operations.

    140710-N-YW024-091” by SurfaceWarriors is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Smith’s wife, Trish Smith, was named the sponsor of the USS Helmand Province, continuing the tradition in which a ship sponsor serves as a critical link between the vessel, its crew, and the nation they serve throughout the life of a warship.

    200313-N-FA868-1469” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The USS Helmand Province will be the third Flight I America-class ship, following the USS Bougainville and USS Fallujah, the latter named in tribute to the grueling battles during the Iraq War.

    USNS Navajo (T-ATF 169)” by Military Sealift Command is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This class is engineered to house a well deck that can transport two Landing Craft Air Cushion hovercrafts, representing a fusion of sea and air power.

    200925-N-KP021-1899” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The design follows in the footsteps of previous ships such as the USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which were tailored to support aviation assets like the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter and the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

    200313-N-PL200-1002” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The Helmand Province’s place in the America-class lineage comes after a $130 million advanced procurement contract award to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi.

    140710-N-YW024-055” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    With a tonnage of 45,000 tons, it stands as a formidable addition to the Navy’s capacity for projecting power and supporting Marines wherever global missions call.

    200410-N-RU810-1233” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The USS Helmand Province stands as a lasting emblem of the tenacity and spirit of the Marines who served in the mountains of Afghanistan, a solemn reminder of the cost of conflict and the honor of service.

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