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LPD-17 SAN ANTONIO Class Construction
(formerly LX Class)

The "winner-take-all" contract was awarded December 1996 to the Avondale Alliance, a consortium of Avondale Shipyards, Bath Iron Works, Hughes, Loral, Sperry Marine, CAE, AT&T, and Intergraph, with every third ship to be built at Bath's facility in Maine and the others at Avondale Shipyards in Louisiana. On December 17, 1996 Avondale Industries, Inc., Avondale, LA, was awarded a $641,370,625 cost-plus-award-fee contract for detail design, integration and construction of USS San Antonio (LPD 17), Amphibious Transport Dock Ship, with options for construction of LPD-18 and LPD-19. On April 7, 1997 the General Accounting Office (GAO) denied the protest by the Ingalls Shipbuilding team with respect to the initial contract to design, construct and support the LPD-17.

The contract award provided for options exercisable by the US Navy for two additional LPD vessels to be built by the Alliance. Under the terms of an agreement between the alliance members, Avondale will build the vessel covered by the December 1996 contract and, if the US Navy exercises the two options, Avondale would also construct the second while Bath would construct the third of the three LPD-17 vessels. Raytheon is responsible for total ship integration. In accordance with the US Navy's requirement of a streamlined contractual relationship, the Alliance's agreement provides that Avondale would act as the prime contractor for all three vessels, and as such, Avondale was responsible for submitting invoices for not only its own costs, but also any costs incurred by Bath and Raytheon. If the US Navy awarded contracts to the Alliance to construct all twelve ships, the initial plan was that Avondale would construct eight ships and Bath would construct four ships.

The operational flexibility of Amphibious Readiness Groups (ARGs) was significantly enhanced with the delivery of the USS San Antonio, the first of nine landing assault ships planned [as of 1998] to be procured between FY 1996 and FY 2003. This represented a reduction from twelve ships initially planned over this period in 1997. The FY 1999 budget request included $638 million for the second of this 12 ship program, with the first unit planned for FY 02 delivery. This amount, in conjunction with the $96M of advance procurement provided by Congress in FY 1998, fully funded this second ship. Construction of LPD 18, the second ship of the class, was scheduled to begin in FY 99 with procurement of two additional ships planned for FY 2000, with a total procurement of an additional nine ships by fiscal year 2003. The plan was to procure a total of twelve LPD 17s to replace 27 amphibious ships from the classes in service. This plan will not only modernize amphibious forces, but will also result in significant manpower and life-cycle cost savings by reducing the total fleet manning required for the older amphibious ships that are replaced.

Preliminary OT-IIB findings suggest that the LPD 17 will provide considerable amphibious lift as well as advances in shipboard application of information technology, reduced radar cross-section, and improved habitability for the crew and embarked Marines. The Program Manager, however, had not corrected some of the design deficiencies identified as early as 1996, according to DOT&E. These deficiencies included a lack of defense against attack aircraft and torpedoes,and problems with storage of supplies.

As of October 1999 it was reported that the LPD-17 could cost as much $245 million above the original estimate, a 41 percent cost increase for the first ship in that class. And as of March 2000 Litton Industries was about 30 percent over budget and 10 months behind schedule in building the LPD-17, which was estimated to cost $802 million -- $185 million more than its $617-million target cost.

The keel for the first ship of the LPD 17 class was laid in December 2000 at Avondale Shipyard and delivery for the lead ship, USS SAN ANTONIO, was slated for September 2003, a delay of one year from the 1999 plan. Prospective crewmembers are expected to begin arriving in the New Orleans area 13 months prior to ship delivery. Production on USS NEW ORLEANS (LPD-18) and USS MESA VERDE (LPD-19) commenced January 2001. Their initially projected comissioning dates also slipped along with the schedule for the lead ship. As of early 2001 it was anticipated that the schedules for the fourth and subsequent units would remain as originally planned.

The President's budget request for FY 2001 included only 8-ships, an increase of two ships over the previous year. The Conference report on the FY '01 Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4576) reduced this request and returned the naval build rate to only 6-ships per year. Specifically, the conferees reduced the president's SCN budget request from $12.3 billion to $11.6 billion. Roughly $1 billion was cut from the LPD-17 amphibious ship program leaving the Navy and Marine Corps with only $560 million in advance procurement rather than two ships. The conference report did, however provide advance construction authority, which the Navy could use to enter into a contract for the 2 ships (LPD-21 and LPD-22) if the Navy determines sufficient funds are available.

Subsequent to the Fiscal Year 2001 budget review, both the Navy and industry conducted independent assessments of the design progress necessary to support production of the lead ship. These reviews identified a projected additional 14-month adjustment (for a total of 24 months) to the lead ship, resulting in delivery of the LPD 17 in November 2004. They attributed the delay primarily to completion of detail design and translation of that design into detailed production instructions. The design process was proving more difficult and time-consuming than originally estimated; however, this new computer aided design process was yielding a much higher quality product. Production schedules for LPD 18 and follow ships were adjusted to reflect the delay to the lead ship and to ensure efficient follow ship construction at the respective shipyards.

As of December 31, 2001, LPD 17 program costs increased $6,603.1 million (+75.2%) from $8,777.6 million to $15,380.7 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 4 ships from 8 to 12 ships (+$3,606.0 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations* (+$733.9 million), a rescheduling of the FY03-04 ships to FY05-06 (+$87.1 million), revised cost estimates for LPD 17-20 (+$945.5 million), revised estimates for outfitting and post delivery associated with the quantity increase and the rescheduling of the FY03-09 ships (+$352.5 million), and an increase to LPD 21-28 to reflect increased labor hours, labor rates material costs, etc. (+$1,451.6 million). These increases were partially offset by FY02 Congressional reductions (-$266.3 million) and revised estimates for outfitting and post delivery for LPD 17-20 (-$227.2 million).

The Fiscal Year 2002 budget request included $421 million for Advanced Procurement efforts for the next four ships of this 12-ship program. This funding will stabilize the vendor base and support planning and material procurement to commence construction of the next two ships in Fiscal Year 2003, resulting in construction of these ships on a Fiscal Year 2002 schedule. Providing full funding for two LPD 17 Class ships in Fiscal Year 2002 will not further accelerate the schedule for LPD 21 and LPD 22, since the procurement of material required for construction is already funded. Lead ship construction commenced in the summer of 2000 at Avondale. LPD 19 construction commenced in July 2001 at Bath Iron Works.

By mid-2002 the Pre-Commissioning crew was slated to join the LPD-17 San Antonio in October 2003, and delivery to the Navy scheduled for November 2004 [as opposed to the previous schedule of September 2003]. The schedules for the subsequent units was also extended, with the delivery of the final unit delaye from December 2008 to August 2010.

The entire 12-ship class is being built by Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE: NOC) Ship Systems sector, headquartered in Pascagoula, MS. By mid-2002 the Pentagon was close to reaching an agreement with Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics to swap the workload on the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class Flight IIA destroyers and the San Antonio (LPD-17)-class amphibious transports. The plan was intended to minimize the risks on both programs [DDG-51 and LPD-17] and minimize the risks to the Navy in terms of cost and performance. The plan consolidated Flight IIA Arleigh Burke construction at GD's Bath Iron Works facility in Maine, with Northrop Grumman's Avondale shipyard in Mississippi focusing on getting the first ships in the LPD-17 class delivered to the Navy. Under the plan the four LPD-17s to be built by GD's Bath Iron Works were swapped for four DDG-51s scheduled for construction at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls shipyard. In July 2001, Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine cut the first pieces of steel that would become USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). After the Memorandum of Understanding between Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, responsibility for construction of Mesa Verde was transferred to Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS in 2002. The keel was laid for LPD 19 on February 25, 2003 at Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS.

With the ceremonial keel laying of the future USS Green Bay (LPD 20) 26 August 2003, four of 12 ships of the LPD 17 class had passed their traditional start of construction milestone. Green Bay is the third ship in production at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Avondale, La., following the San Antonio (LPD 17), launched in July 2003 and New Orleans (LPD 18). The future USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) is under construction at the shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. Green Bay was intended to be launched in 2005. In November 2003, the Navy awarded the contract to build New York (LPD 21). The bow stem of New York was cast in 2003 using tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center and the keel was laid in September 2004.

In 2004, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems launched New Orleans and Mesa Verde and laid the keel for New York. Also the Secretary of the Navy named San Diego (LPD 22), Anchorage (LPD 23), Arlington (LPD 24) and Somerset (LPD 25). New York Arlington and Somerset honor those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In 2005, the shipyard delivered San Antonio and in 2006 the Navy awarded construction contracts for the LPD 22-25. Also in 2006, Green Bay (LPD 20) was launched and USS San Antonio (LPD 17), first ship of the class, was commissioned January 15, 2005.

In 2007 USS New Orleans (LPD 18) was commissioned on March 10 in New Orleans, La., and the keel was laid for the future USS San Diego, LPD 22. The US Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $1 billion shipbuilding contract to build Somerset (LPD 25). This 47-month, fixed price incentive contract modification provides funding to begin construction on the ninth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. The Northrop Grumman-built amphibious transport dock ship Mesa Verde (LPD 19) successfully completed acceptance trials for the U.S. Navy, passing all major testing events and proving its readiness to be delivered to the Navy. The ship was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 28, 2007, and USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) commissioned on 15 December 2007 in Panama City, Fla.

The Secretary of the Navy's 2007 report to Congress on the long-range plan for construction of naval vessels called for a "below threshold" expeditionary warfare force. Specifically, the plan reduced expeditionary force size, including a reduction in the LPD-17 class from a total of 12 to 9 ships. In testimony before Congress in fiscal years 2005, 2006, and 2007, Marine Corps leadership stated that a class of 10 LPD-17 ships was required to meet Marine Corps forcible entry requirements, with acceptable risk. The Chief of Naval Operations has identified procurement of a tenth LPD-17 ship in 2008 as the Navy's top unfunded priority.

The FY2008 budget request included $1,398,922,000 for the procurement of the ninth San Antonio Class (LPD-17) Amphibious Transport Dock Ship. This ship is the final LPD-17 class ship that the Navy had in the budget. On 11 May 2007 the House Armed Services committee recommended $1.4 billion for the ship contained in the budget request and recommended an increase of $1.7 billion, to include advance procurement, for the construction of an additional San Antonio class amphibious assault ship.

The Senate Armed Services Committee was concerned that the Navy's plan does not provide the total number of amphibious ships needed to support the Department of the Navy's two Marine Expeditionary Brigade lift requirements for forcible entry operations. The committee was aware that construction for a tenth LPD-17 ship would not commence until fiscal year 2009, but delaying procurement beyond 2009 would cause significant cost growth and jeopardize industrial base stability by introducing production breaks in the program. Therefore, on 05 June 2007 the committee directed the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report not later than November 1, 2007, that outlined the funding required for a `smart buy' of LPD-26, maintaining continuous, uninterrupted production at critical vendors' and shipbuilders' facilities.

The House Appropriations Committee noted that the 313 ship fleet that the Navy has stated as a goal requires ten San Antonio Class ships and that this tenth ship was the highest priority listed on the Navy's unfunded priority list. In an effort to achieve stability in the Navy's shipbuilding program by increasing throughput and helping the Navy meet its stated requirement for LPD-17 Class ships, on 30 July 2007 the House Appropriations Committee provided an additional $1,700,000,000 for the procurement of a tenth San Antonio Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act Conference Report (Senate December 14, 2007) provided the LPD-17 that was requested by the administration and added $50 million in advance procurement for a tenth LPD-17 class amphibious ship.

In May 2014 the House Armed Services Committee authorized $800 milliontowards the construction of a twelfth San Antonio-class amphib a ship that the Pentagon has not requested. The HASC passed its version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act with $812.565 million - a plus-up of $800 million over the Navy's $12.565 million request - for LPD 28, the twelfth ship of the class.

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Page last modified: 19-05-2014 19:40:56 ZULU