The lead ship of the Navy’s newest class of amphibious warship, San Antonio (LPD 17), will be christened during ceremonies July 19 at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans.
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Hutchison will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, named for the city of San Antonio, Texas.
San Antonio is the first surface ship ever designed in "virtual reality,” using computer modeling to design most of the ship before any steel was cut. Additionally, by involving the war fighter in the design process from the keel up, the design team and shipbuilders are creating a ship that will best meet the needs of the 21st century Navy and Marine Corps operators, maintainers and trainers, who will ultimately use the ship.
San Antonio is designed to support a variety of Marine Corps missions in amphibious warfare
, special operations and the multi-mission requirements of expeditionary warfare. At 684-feet long, 105-feet wide, and displacing nearly 25,000 tons, the LPD 17-class ships will be the second-largest amphibious group of ships in the Navy’s future amphibious ready groups.
San Antonio will carry a crew of 361 Sailors and up to 800 Marines. It will operate up to four helicopters or two vertical take off and landing aircraft, and can carry landing craft or tracked amphibious vehicles.
San Antonio also features the advanced enclosed mast/sensor (AEM/S) system that replaces conventional masts, protecting radar and communications antennas from weather and allowing their electronic signals to pass through. The AEM/S, the largest composite material structures ever installed on a U.S. Navy steel ship
, will help reduce the ship’s vulnerability to detection by hostile radar.
Cmdr. Jon Padfield, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, is San Antonio’s prospective commanding officer. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in 2005 and will be homeported in Norfolk, Va.