The Navy’s America-class amphibious assault ship LHA-9 will receive the name “Fallujah” to remember the first and second Battles of Fallujah in the Sunni Muslim province of al-Anbar during the Iraq War.
The name reveal comes after American shipbuilder HII, previously known as Huntington Ingalls Industries, secured a $2.4 billion contract in October to build the ship, the fourth of its class. Construction is scheduled to get underway this month.
“The future America-class amphibious ship will be named the USS Fallujah, LHA-9,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said Tuesday. “The future USS Fallujah will commemorate the first and second battles of Fallujah, American-led offenses during the Iraq War. The name selection follows the tradition of naming amphibious ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles, early U.S. sailing ships, or legacy names of earlier carriers from World War II.
“It is an honor for me, and for our nation, to memorialize the Marines, the soldiers and coalition forces that fought valiantly and those that sacrificed their lives during both battles of Fallujah.”
The First Battle of Fallujah, fought in April 2004 and code-named Operation Vigilant Resolve, was conducted to capture or kill those responsible for ambushing and killing four American contractors on March 31, as well as the killings of five American soldiers in Habbaniyah a few days earlier. The U.S. suffered 27 deaths in the campaign; some 200 insurgents were killed and an approximate 600 Iraqi civilians, 300 of them believed to be women and children.
Upon withdrawing May 1, the U.S. handed military operations to the 1,100-man Fallujah Brigade, but by September, the brigade had dissolved and turned over all of its U.S.-made weapons and equipment to the insurgents.
In November, the U.S.-led occupation forces moved in to surround the insurgents and destroy them.
The Second Battle of Fallujah, fought from November to December 2004 and known as Operation Phantom Fury, successfully retook the city.
“With over 100 coalition forces killed and 600 wounded, Operation Phantom Fury is considered to be the bloodiest engagement to the Iraq War and the fiercest serving combat involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War’s battle of Hue City,” Del Toro said.
“This namesake deserves to be in the Pantheon of iconic Marine Corps battles, and the LHA’s unique capabilities will serve as a stark reminder to everyone around the world of the bravery, the courage and commitment to freedom displayed by those who fought in those battles,” Del Toro said.
The HII contract allows options that would expand the cumulative value of the contract to $3.2 billion. The shipbuilding company is currently building LHA-8, the Bougainville, which is slated for delivery in 2024 and is outfitted to accommodate the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
“Ingalls shipbuilders are ready to build the Navy’s newest LHA,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson said in a statement in October. “We understand how important this work is and consider it an honor to be given the opportunity to deliver this capability to the fleet. We value our partnership with the Navy and all of our critical supplier partners.”