LPD-17 SAN ANTONIO Class
(formerly LX Class)
The LPD 17 is the first of a new class of twelve 684-foot, 25,000-ton amphibious transport dock ships designed to transport and land up to 720 Marines, their equipment and supplies by means of embarked landing craft or amphibious vehicles augmented by helicopters. It can carry two LCACs, have a capacity of 25,000 square feet of vehicle stowage and 36,000 cubic feet of cargo, and be able to land four CH-46 helicopters, or accommodate a mix of AH-1/UH-1, CH-46, and H-53E helicopters and MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft.
Amphibious lift assets are increasingly important as a result of the emphasis on regional contingencies and the need for rapid deployment of naval expeditionary forces. The SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) Class of amphibious transport dock ships represents the Navy and Marine Corps' future in amphibious warfare, and is one of the cornerstones in the strategic plan known as "Forward...from the sea". The multi-mission San Antonio class are the first ships designed to accommodate all three elements of the Marine Corps' "mobility triad," the new tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft, the advanced amphibious assault vehicle (AAAV), and the landing craft air cushion (LCAC). It is designed to support embarking, transporting, and landing elements of a Marine landing force in an assault by helicopters, landing craft, amphibious vehicles, and by a combination of these methods to conduct primary amphibious warfare missions.
The LPD-17 class is designed to be a substantial improvement over the LPD-4 class in terms of lift capacity, accommodations for personnel, electronics, and self-defense capabilities. The ship is more than 45 percent larger than its predecessor, displacing about 25,000 tons at full load, compared with almost 17,000 tons for the LPD-4 class. It carries fewer troops and less cargo than the LPD-4 class but has twice as much space for vehicles and landing craft, as well as two additional spots for helicopters.
The San Antonio class is the first designed, from the keel up, to execute Operational Maneuver From The Sea [OMFTS] and Ship to Objective Maneuver [STOM]. Operational Maneuver From The Sea (OMFTS) employs a combination of strength, speed, and flexibility to exploit enemy weaknesses, create gaps in enemy defenses, and attack where the enemy least expects it. In support of OMFTS, the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) operates initially well beyond the enemy's visual or sensor horizon from shore. This Over-The-Horizon (OTH) amphibious operation exploits the operational capabilities of the ATF and emphasizes the principles of tactical mobility, operational speed, and operational flexibility.
Naval amphibious ship forces with embarked Marine Corps units provide an essential component of the forward presence mission capability required to implement United States foreign policy. The LPD 17 integrates with the existing amphibious ship force structure and the Navy's declining shore infrastructure. The LPD 17 class program is the replacement for three classes of amphibious ships that have reached the end of their service life -- the LPD 4, LSD 36, and LST 1179 classes - and one class that has already been retired, the LKA 113.
As a class, these ships will overcome amphibious lift shortfalls caused by the decommissioning of aging LPDs, LSTs, LKAs, and LSDs. Maintaining projected delivery schedules and attaining operational readiness of this ship class is key to eradicating existing shortfalls in amphibious lift. Of particular concern is the high average age of amphibious ships which have high maintenance costs, higher manning levels, and lower reliability compared to ships being built today. The introduction of the LPD 17 into the fleet is intended to mitigate this problem.
The 12-ship LPD 17 program is the final piece of the planned 36-ship amphibious force, comprised of LHAs, LHDs, LSD 41/49s, and LPD 17s. The LPD 17 will operate in various scenarios, as: a member of a three-ship, forward-deployed ARG with a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable (MEU (SOC)) embarked; split ARG or single ship; and as a member of a 12-14 ship MEB.
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