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President Harry S. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Richard M. McCool Jr. in 1945.
President Harry S. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Richard M. McCool Jr. in 1945. (U.S. Navy/Harry S. Truman Library & Museum)
President Harry S. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Richard M. McCool Jr. in 1945.
President Harry S. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Richard M. McCool Jr. in 1945. (U.S. Navy/Harry S. Truman Library & Museum)
This rendering shows the USS Richard M. McCool, which will honor Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr.
This rendering shows the USS Richard M. McCool, which will honor Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

Fabrication began on the Navy’s newest amphibious transport dock ship Monday in Pascagoula, Miss.

The first 100 tons of steel has been cut for the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr., which is expected to carry about 720 troops and take on MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, amphibious-assault vehicles and “virtually every size of Marine Corps helicopter,” a Navy statement said.

The San Antonio-class McCool will be the last of the Navy’s LPD-17 Flight I class ships that are expected to “support amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century,” the statement said.

“We continue to benefit from the maturity of this program and look forward to achieving future production milestones as we work to deliver this versatile and capable warship to the fleet,” Capt. Brian Metcalf, LPD 17 class program manager, said in the statement.

The McCool pays tribute to Medal of Honor recipient Richard M. McCool Jr., who helped save a kamikaze-attacked ship and its injured sailors off Okinawa’s coast during World War II. He went on to serve in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

When the ship’s name was announced in May, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said McCool’s “legacy will live on in the future USS Richard M. McCool and his heroic actions will continue to inspire Sailors and Marines for decades to come.”

The McCool is being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries, which is also working to repair the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald after damage suffered in a collision that killed seven sailors last year off Japan.

It’s unclear when construction on the McCool will be completed.

In June, the company delivered the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Indiana to the Navy after working on its construction since 2012, a Huntington Ingalls statement said. The submarine will enter service in late September, according to the Indiana’s commissioning committee.

doornbos.caitlin@stripes.comTwitter: @CaitlinDoornbos

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