U.S. Navy’s Makin Island LHD-8 Landing Helicopter Dock

This Wasp-class ship is crewed by more than 1,000 sailors and can embark more than 1,600 Marines. Makin Island’s mission is to transport and land ashore troops, materiel and supplies to support and sustain amphibious assault operations, including a substantial flight deck for fixed and rotor wing craft, so it has a broad range of power and propulsion demands.


The U.S. Navy’s Great Green Initiative has laid down a challenge to industry to design more energy-efficient ships. This is leading to ships (and planes) which run on blends of bio fuels and traditional fossil fuels, and have a reduced fuel requirement through energy-efficient electric power architectures – something in which GE has expertise.

The USS Makin Island LHD-8 (Landing Helicopter Dock) is a showcase for the initiative, and a significant demonstration of the ability of GE’s Power Conversion business to adapt innovative and cost-effective technological solutions to specific needs.

lhd challenge


  • Launched in 2009, the USS Makin Island was the first U.S. Navy surface ship to be equipped with both gas turbines and a diesel-electric auxiliary propulsion system (APS), developed and delivered by GE.
  • Enables a hybrid of different propulsion solutions to help maximize efficiency at different speeds and operating scenarios.
  • While maneuvering, which is what she does for over 70% of her time, the ship’s propeller shafts are powered indirectly by six diesel generators feeding two auxiliary electric propulsion motors.
  • The electric propulsion uses SeaPulse MV3000 variable speed drives and high-performance electric induction propulsion motors, proven across naval and commercial marine applications.
  • Now, it is being joined by two more vessels with identical propulsion systems. The PCU America LHA-6 Landing Helicopter Assault ship and an LHA-7, USS Tripoli.

lha solutions


GE’s hybrid electric drive propulsion system on board the U.S. Navy’s first hybrid-propelled ship, USS Makin Island (LHD 8), is assessed to have saved more than four million gallons of fuel during her seven-month first deployment, resulting in an estimated cost saving of $15 million.

The Makin Island was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Just on her maiden voyage, sailing from the Gulf of Mexico, around South America, to her home port of San Diego, California, about $2 million in fuel savings were achieved, compared with a conventional propulsion system.

Over the course of Makin Island’s life, the Navy expects to save more than $250 million, clearly highlighting the benefits of electric propulsion on emissions, total cost of ownership and mission performance.