As the USS Tripoli docks in Singapore, while China’s warships remain active near Japan.

The latest amphibious assault ship of the US Navy, the USS Tripoli (LHA-7), recently arrived at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore days after navigating the waters of the South China Sea.

Tripoli is the second America-class amphibious assault vessel built in the mid-2010s and commissioned to service in July 2020. At the height of the brewing tension between the US and China, Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego en route to the Western Pacific Ocean to embark on her maiden deployment on May 2022. During its voyage, the amphibious assault vessel participated in a “lightning carrier” trial concept with 20 F-35Bs onboard. By April, Tripoli can now operate as a capable vessel, either as a lightning carrier or an amphibious assault platform, with the latter serving only as a contingency option, given that the ship is primarily a dedicated Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA).

“We’re not an aircraft carrier,” said Vaughn, a veteran F/A-18 pilot who was among the first to transition to the F-35B. “We are an LHA that is very uniquely suited to aviation operations—whether that’s an assault or, in this case, a lightning carrier.”