The Navy’s newest amphibious ship, the amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio
is in production. USS San Antonio is the first ship of 12 amphibious ships that will support the Marine Corps’ landing forces and embarked Marines in forward presence operations throughout the world. Designed to fully support Marine Corps missions involving amphibious or expeditionary maneuver warfare, as well as special operations, the ship has a flight deck for aircraft and a well deck for landing craft or tracked amphibious vehicles.
Each ship can carry 720 Marines, land them by Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles, or fly them to their objective areas in a variety of helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft. At 684 in length, 105 ft. in width, and displacing more than 25,000 tons, these ships are the second largest vessels in the Navy’s 21st Century amphibious force.
Designed for survivability, San Antonio’s distinct profile is less vulnerable to detection, particularly with its Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor, replacing traditional “stick” masts. The ship also has two surface-to-air missile launchers for air defense and two high rate-of-fire stabilized 30mm guns for close-in protection against small boats. The San Antonio will be shock hardened and equipped with the latest in firefighting and damage control equipment.
Those designing this class of ship certainly did not overlook quality of life factors for Sailors and Marines, both male and female. Living spaces have adjacent sanitary facilities, nearby lounges and the only difference between crew and troop berthing will be the troop armories located close by. New bunks, the sit-up berths, improve the old style “bunk beds” by allowing the occupant to sit up and use a portable reading and writing surface. There will be a single, consolidated galley aboard the ship, so that officers and enlisted personnel will enjoy the same meals.
Automated computer workstations will make ship navigation easier and enable the ship’s engineers to more effectively control the diesel power plant. The Ship Wide Area Network (SWAN) connects the various ship systems, while providing Internet and e-mail services. The SWAN also serves as the access to training courses, from professional Navy courses to college classes through teleconferencing means. The 21st Century Sailor or Marine embarked aboard USS San Antonio (and the 11 ships of her class that will follow) will use computers every day.
The ship is named for the city of San Antonio, Texas, thus keeping alive the tradition of naming ships after American cities. It will be the first U.S. Navy ship so named, creating a bond between city and ship that will endure throughout the ship’s projected 40-year lifetime. San Antonio city and community leaders, recognizing the importance of this bond, established the USS San Antonio Commissioning Committee and designated Mr. Richard M. Kleberg, III as the Commissioning Committee Chairperson.
The LPD-17 Program, managed by the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Expeditionary Warfare (PMS 317), began transitioning from detail design to lead ship production in the year 2000. Supported by the Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP)--New Orleans, construction of San Antonio began in August 2000, followed by the keel laying ceremony last December. The first two ships of the class, San Antonio (LPD 17) and New Orleans (LPD 18), are being built by Northrop Grumman’s Litton-Avondale shipyard in New Orleans, LA. The PEO is responsible for all aspects of life cycle management for its assigned programs. The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), headquartered at the Washington Navy Yard
, provides the PEOs with total ship system engineering, establishes and coordinates technical policy and procedures, and delivers integrated logistics support.