LPD-17 San Antonio Class: The USA’s New Amphibious Ships

Q.E.D. Systems won a $19.6 million contract modification in support of Navy amphibious ship classes LPD 17, LSD 41 and LSD 49.

The deal provides for advanced planning services in support of Chief of Naval Operations-scheduled availabilities, continuous maintenance availabilities (CMAVs), inactivation CMAVs, sustainment availabilities, phased modernization availabilities, re-commissioning availabilities, continuous maintenance and emergent maintenance windows of opportunity. The LPD 17 USS San Antonio is the lead ship of the San Antonio Class.

The San Antonio Class is the latest Class of US Navy amphibious force ships. The LSD 41 or USS Whidbey Island is part of the Whidbey Island Class and the LSD 49 or USS Harpers Ferry is part of the Harpers Ferry Class dock landing ships. Q.E.D. systems will perform work in Virginia, California, and Washington and the Pentagon expects work to be finished by May next year.

LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.

While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class external link, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.