Eagle Claw CLASS light assault carrier
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 the helicopter carrier, but includes support for amphibious landing craft, with most designs including a well deck.
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, they are capable of serving in the sea-control role, embarking aircraft like Harrier fighters and ASW helicopters. Most of these ships can also carry or support landing craft, such as air-cushioned landing craft (hovercraft) or LCUs.
The largest fleet of these types is operated by the United States Navy, including the Tarawa class dating back to the 1970s and the larger Wasp class ships that debuted in 1989. Amphibious assault ships are also operated by the British Royal Navy, the French Navy, the Italian Navy, the Republic of Korea Navy, and the Spanish Navy.
Although the term amphibious assault ship is often used interchangeably with the more-general term amphibious warfare ship, it specifically applies only to the large-deck amphibious ships within the US Navy, the LPH, LHA, and LHD types. This does not include the amphibious transport dock (LPD), and dock landing ship (LSD).[