LHA - Amphibious Assault Ship, General Purpose

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An amphibious assault ship (also referred to as a commando carrier or an amphibious assault carrier) is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault. The design evolved from aircraft carriers converted for use as helicopter carriers, but includes support for amphibious landing craft, with most designs including a well deck. Coming full circle, some amphibious assault ships now have a secondary role as aircraft carriers.

The role of the amphibious assault ship is fundamentally different from a standard aircraft carrier: its aviation facilities have the primary role of hosting helicopters to support forces ashore rather than to support strike aircraft. However, some are capable of serving in the sea-control role, embarking aircraft like Harrier fighters for CAP and ASW helicopters or operating as a safe base for large numbers of STOVL fighters conducting air support for the MEU once it has gone ashore. Most of these ships can also carry or support landing craft, such as air-cushioned landing craft (hovercraft) or LCUs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibious_assault_ship