LPD Amphibious Transport Docks

The design of the San Antonio Amphibious Assault Ships was jointly developed by Navy, Marine Corps and industry stakeholders to provide superior performance over a broad range of operational requirements.  LPD 17 provides the Navy and Marine Corps with modern, sea based platforms for execution of Expeditionary Warfare Missions. Each ship’s survivability features allow the crew to confidently sail into harm’s way and extend their reach with the compliment of air cushioned landing craft, helicopters or tilt rotor aircraft.

LPD Design and Construction

Ingalls Shipbuilding is the sole provider of the San Antonio (LPD 17) class of amphibious transport dock ships for the U.S. Navy. The versatile 684-foot-long ships are designed with the goal of meeting the Navy and Marines Corps needs, embracing a “Design for Ownership” philosophy to interact with the fleet’s operating forces.

The unique design-engineering approach injected fleet input into the development process before construction began and shaped every element of the ships’ systems and spaces to meet future requirements.

Each LPD consists of 210 units built utilizing modular construction techniques. Each unit is extensively pre-outfitted with piping, electrical, machinery and ventilation systems along with many pieces of equipment prior to launch.

LPDs At Sea

The multi-mission LPD 17 class plays a pivotal role in maintaining national security and strengthening the fleet. The ships are modern, networked sea-based platforms that feature improved command and control and enhanced survivability systems combined with tactical lift capability for embarking and deploying a Marine Air Ground Task Force. The Marine Corps’ equipment are landed by embarked landing craft (LCAC) air cushion or utility landing craft (LCU) and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by rotary/tiltrotor aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey, the CH-53E Super Stallion, the UH-1Y Venom, and the AH-1Z Viper.

The ships will support the entire spectrum of crisis response from major combat operations to  humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of this century. They can operate at sea as part of an Amphibious Task Force or Joint Task Force; serve as an integral part of a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group; or deploy as part of a larger Expeditionary Strike Group – each group organized to accomplish a broad range of missions. An LPD 17 class ship can also operate independently to accomplish a wide variety of naval tasking.

Designed and built with such versatility in mind, future commanders will rely on this operational-flexibility at sea to project the right force at the right time

History of LPDs

The landing platform docks, or LPDs, have roots in the birth of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps more than 235 years ago. These versatile warships transport and land Marines and their equipment and supplies wherever they are needed, but by more modern and technologically advanced conveyances than in the early years of our nation.

Marines and their equipment are transported ashore by embarked landing craft air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing craft and tracked amphibious vehicles. Augmented by rotary and tiltrotor aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey, LPD ships support the range of military operations and can serve as the secondary aviation platform for Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs).

Ingalls began building the predecessors of today’s amphibious warships in the 1950s, when the Pascagoula shipyard won contracts to build four Terrebonne Parish class Landing Ship Tank (LST) and began construction of USS Thomaston (LSD 28), the first in a new class of Landing Ship Docks. From 1953 to 1954, Ingalls delivered five LSTs and four LSDs.

This tradition was continued in the 1960s with the USS Cleveland (LPD 7) class Landing Platform Docks, which were a refinement over the Austin (LPD 4) class. Ingalls delivered USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and USS Dubuque (LPD 8) in the mid-1960s.

From the late 1980s through the late 1990s, Ingalls Shipbuilding’s Avondale shipyard built another LPD 17 predecessor class of amphibious ships, the LSDs, or landing ship docks. Avondale produced five of eight LSD ships in the Whidbey Island class — LSDs 44-48 — and went on to build four additional LSD CV ships, or cargo variants, in the Harper’s Ferry class – LSDs 49-52.

Today’s San Antonio (LPD 17) Class amphibious transport docks are the most reliable, capable, survivable and habitable amphibious ships ever to join the fleet. These warships embark, transport, land and sustain elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions. The multi-mission San Antonio class is designed and engineered to operate in littoral waters alone or as part of a group operating forward in hostile theaters anywhere in the world.

The San Antonio class LPDs are the newest LPDs and a key element of the Navy’s 21st century transformational platforms. Collectively, the LPD 17 class ships replace the functions of more than 41 amphibious ships in four classes (LPD 4, LSD 36, LKA 113, and LST 1179) and provide the Navy and Marine Corps with modern, networked, and survivable sea-based platforms.

The LPD 17 program has matured in its serial production at Ingalls Shipbuilding since the contract was first awarded in Dec. 1996 and construction began in 2000. Ingalls continues to apply lessons-learned to follow-on ships and each successive ship in the class has proven to be better and of higher quality than its predecessor. The first eight ships in the LPD 17 class – USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS New York (LPD 21), USS San Diego (LPD 22), USS Anchorage (LPD 23), USS Arlington (LPD 24), USS Somerset (LPD 25) and USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) – have been delivered to the Navy.   The Portland (LPD 27) is scheduled for delivery in 2017.  In December 2015, an advance procurement contract was awarded for LPD 28.

LPD Timeline

Sept. 8, 1962: The first U. S. Navy Landing Platform Dock ship, USS Raleigh (LPD 1), is commissioned. Two more ships in the Raleigh class, USS Vancouver (LPD 2) and USS LaSalle (LPD 3), follow.

June 27, 1964: USS Austin (LPD 4) is christened by sponsor Lynda Bird Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The lead ship in the new LPD class was commissioned on Feb. 6, 1965.

July 10, 1971: The last ship in the Austin class, USS Ponce (LPD 15), is commissioned. The ship was still in service with the U.S. Navy in 2012.

1980s – 1990s: The Landing Ship Dock classes were predecessors of the future San Antonio (LPD 17) class ships. Ingalls Shipbuilding’s Avondale shipyard built five LSDs in the Whidbey Island class – LSDs 44- 48 – and four additional LSD CV ships, or Cargo Variants, in the Harper’s Ferry Class – LSDs 49-52.

Dec. 17, 1996: Contract awarded to Avondale for the design and construction of the San Antonio (LPD 17) class, the revolutionary new class of amphibious transport dock ships. The proposed 12 new ships will functionally replace more than 41 amphibious ships, including the LPD 4, LSD 36, LKA 113 and LST 1179 classes.

Sept. 11, 2001: After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, New York Gov. George E. Pataki petitioned Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England to bestow the name New York on a new Navy warship in honor of the victims and heroes of September 11. England designated LPD 21 to be named New York. Symbolically, 7.5 tons of salvaged steel from the World Trade Center is melted into the ship’s bow stem.

Sept. 4, 2004: Secretary England announced that two of New York’s sister ships – LPD 24 and LPD 25 – will be named Arlington and Somerset in commemoration of the places where two of the four planes used in the 9/11 attacks came down: Arlington County, Va. and Somerset County, Pa.

Jan. 14, 2006: USS San Antonio (LPD 17) is commissioned in Ingleside, Texas, featuring former President George H. W. Bush as keynote speaker.

May 15, 2012: Ingalls Shipbuilding is awarded a contract for the Portland (LPD 27), the 11th ship in the LPD 17 program. The 10th ship in the class, John P. Murtha (LPD 26), was awarded on April 1, 2011. Both ships are presently under construction at Ingalls’ Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard.

Sept. 17, 2012: USS Arlington (LPD 24), the seventh ship in the San Antonio (LPD 17) program was delivered to the U.S. Navy by Ingalls Shipbuilding, joining her Ingalls-built sister ships, USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS New York (LPD 21), USS San Diego (LPD 22), and USS Anchorage (LPD 23)