Amphibious Warfare Ship - History - Early Cold War Developments

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Early Cold War Developments

The first use of helicopters in an amphibious assault came during the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956 (the Suez War). Two British light fleet carriers were pressed into service to carry helicopters, and a battalion-sized airborne assault was made. Two of the other carriers involved, HMS Bulwark (R08) and Albion (R07), were converted in the late 1950s into dedicated "commando carriers." The techniques were developed further by American forces in the Vietnam War and refined during training exercises. The modern amphibious assault can take place at virtually any point of the coast, making defending against them extremely difficult.

Earlier ships which played a similar role to the current vessels as the heart of an amphibious assault included five Iwo Jima class Landing Platform Helicopter vessels, built in the 1950s and 1960s, and various converted fleet and escort carriers. The first of the type envisaged was the escort aircraft carrier USS Block Island (CVE-106/LPH-1), which never actually saw service as an amphibious assault ship. Delays in the construction of the Iwo Jima class saw other conversions made as a stopgap measure; three Essex-class aircraft carriers (USS Boxer (CV-21/LPH-4), Princeton (CV-37/LPH-5), and Valley Forge (CV-45/LPH-8)) and one Casablanca class escort carrier (USS Thetis Bay (CVE-90/CVHA-1/LPH-6)) were converted into Boxer and Thetis Bay class amphibious assault vessels.

The Tarawa and Wasp types and their Iwo Jima class forebears resemble aircraft carriers. However, the role of an amphibious assault ship is fundamentally different from that of an aircraft carrier. Its aviation facilities are not to support strike or air defense aircraft, but for hosting helicopters to support forces ashore.

Read more about this topic:  Amphibious Warfare Ship, History

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