Keel authenticated for first Flight II San Antonio class LPD
Warship Technology March 2022
The US Navy is taking advantage of a proven hull and ‘hot’ production line to build more San Antonio class LPDs to replace its Whidbey Island class LSDs.
The keel for the future USS Harrisburg (LPD 30), the 14th San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship and the first Flight II ship was laid at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding on 28 January 2022.
HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding Division is also currently in production of the future USS Richard S McCool (LPD 29) and the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28). LPD 28 and 29 will serve as transition ships to LPD 30.
As a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report noted, compared to the LPD-17 Flight I design, the LPD-17 Flight II design is less expensive to acquire but in some ways less capable. According to the CRS, this is a reflection of how the Flight II design was developed to meet operational requirements while staying within a unit procurement cost target that had been established for the programme.
In many other respects, however, the LPD-17 Flight II design is similar in appearance and capabilities to the LPD-17 Flight I design. Of the 13 LPD-17 Flight I ships, the final two (LPDs 28 and 29) incorporate some design changes that make them transitional ships between the Flight I design and the Flight II design.
The new Flight II ships will have a more conventional mast in place of the two advanced enclosed mast/sensors and an updated deckhouse and boat valley design. The ships will carry fewer troops and have slightly less vehicle stowage space but still have greater capacity than the legacy LSD 41/49 class.
The updated design does not rely on any new technologies, although the US Navy plans to install the new Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), which is still in development, on Flight II ships. Live radar system testing on an EASR prototype is underway and although programme officials consider this low risk, the US Navy will begin ship construction with little time to incorporate any lessons learned from radar testing, which could require it to absorb costly changes and rework during ship construction if test results require design changes.