It's more than just a word. It is a mindset…a way of operating that has its roots in the birth of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps over 225 years ago. And it is the foundation for 21st-century peacetime forward deployments, responses to crises world wide, the War on Terrorism, and warfighting to protect America's citizens, friends, and vital interests wherever and whenever they might be at risk. It is the essence of naval operations from the sea - anytime…anywhere.
"The operational commanders will be standing up and cheering when the day arrives that we can finally get these ships in the fleet."
-- Admiral William J. Fallon, VCNO, SASC Seapower Subcommittee, 24 July 2001
San Antonio Class Ships
LPD 17 LPD 18 LPD 19 LPD 20
The Navy and Marine Corps have put in place a well-crafted vision to ensure that the nation has the naval expeditionary forces - ships, aircraft, weapons, and systems - to carry out a full spectrum of roles, missions, and tasks in the new century. The projected 12 San Antonio (LPD 17)-Class amphibious assault ships are vital elements of this Sea Power 21 and Naval Vision 21 and are a top expeditionary warfare priority.
Operating forward, from the sea, America's Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) and their Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) [MEU (SOC) s] are multimission crisis-response "tools." They are a mix of highly mobile air and ground firepower with self-sustainable forces that can quickly project compelling power, withdraw rapidly, and then reconstitute to redeploy for follow-on missions. In the Sea Power 21 concept, Expeditionary Strike Groups, combining expeditionary warships, surface combatants, submarines, and Littoral Combat Ships will serve as Sea Strike and Sea Shield force multipliers, operating from Sea Bases worldwide. The LPD 17 Class will be a fulcrum for these future naval expeditionary operations.
Emerging visions - the Navy's Forward…From the Sea, and the Marine Corps' Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) and its tactical implementation plan, Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM) - have defined the requirements for the 21st- century warfighting environment and the capabilities needed to succeed in the littoral battlespace. Designed from the keel up for littoral crises and conflicts, the LPD 17 Class will support sustained and continuous operations in this challenging environment. Sea Power 21 built upon these requirements to focus forces and Sea Warriors to innovative employment and operational strategies to best serve our national security. Enhanced amphibious capabilities and advanced warfighting systems make these WARSHIPS the right tool for the expeditionary warriors in the 21st century.
Designed to fight, the San Antonio Classwarfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the unforgiving littoral environment. The deployment of LPD 17s will provide each naval expeditionary force with greatly enhanced operational flexibility. The LPD 17 can operate as part of an Amphibious Task Force - the "workhorse" of a three-ship ARG - organized to accomplish a broad range of military objectives; or as an element of a "Split-ARG" that has the LPD 17 detached and operating as a single ship, supporting lower-risk operations. Furthermore, it has the warfighting potential to fully operate within an Expeditionary Strike Group or perhaps serve as a mother shipto planned Littoral Combat Ships. This mission flexibility fully expands the ARG's or ESGs area of influence by providing an improved capability to cover multiple areas of responsibility, while responding to several crises simultaneously.
Improved LIFT - strategic and tactical - is critical to the sustainment of power projection operations. The San Antonio Class is the functional replacement for four Classes of less capable amphibious ships equipped with 1970's and early 1980's technology, including its predecessor, the USS Austin (LPD-4) Class. Each LPD 17 has 25,000 square feet of vehicle storage space, more than the larger Wasp (LHD-1)-Class multipurpose assault ship and double that of the LPD-4. When the required twelfth ship (LPD-28) reaches the fleet, the Navy's amphibious force will have the enhanced lift it needs to support forward presence operations and successfully implement the OMFTS and STOM concepts.
The LPD 17 is the first amphibious ship designed to accommodate the Marine Corps' "mobility triad" - Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAAV), Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), and the Marine Corps' new tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey - for high-speed, long-range tactical-lift operations. Just as "littoral" has come to mean operations that begin well "over-the-horizon" (OTH), some 600 miles from an adversary's coastline, the "mobility triad" will ensure our ability to "reach out and touch someone" 200 miles inland, at revolutionary speeds.
Built Tough & For a Dangerous World
America's warships are designed and built to operate in harm's way. Even in peacetime, the threat of attack always lurks in the shadows. The multi-mission San Antonio Class is designed and engineered to operate either as a critical part of a group, or alone, operating forward, in hostile waters. The LPD 17 has a reduced vulnerability in the littoral environment by minimizing radar cross section signature using a streamlined topside design. Combining this significant improvement with state-of-the-art command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities and upgraded self-defense systems significantly improves the ship's ability to defeat airborne threats. The LPD 17 design reflects a revolutionary emphasis on shipboard survivability through an organization that will support both traditional manning and core/flex approaches, a focus on vulnerability reduction, and 21st-century survivability features. Never before has a design meshed these attributes into such a comprehensive approach to optimizing ship survivability.
Although LPD 17 is not flagship-configured, it does contain enhanced command and control features and a robust communications suite that greatly improve its ability to support embarked landing forces, Marine Air Ground Task Forces, Joint or friendly forces. The ship's Combat Information Center, Marine Tactical Logistics Center, mini-Intelligence Center, and Troop Operations command and control spaces are equipped with large screen displays and dedicated computer consoles. Removable "smart bulkheads" integrate these spaces to create synergy and the shared knowledge needed to improve operational agility. A separate mission planning space provides the assets for crisis action planning critical to Special Operations Capable missions.
The heart of the ship's defensive capability is a quick reaction Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS) that correlates sensor information, provides threat identification and evaluation, assesses own-ship defense readiness, and recommends optimal tactical defense responses against anti-ship missile and aircraft attacks in a cluttered conflict environment. Information flow will be equally state-of-the-art, as the LPD 17 is the first U.S. Navy ship to be equipped with a fiber-optic Shipboard Wide Area Network (SWAN). The SWAN connects all ship systems, combat systems, sensors, and command and control nodes with the ship's warfighting consoles to provide the essential real-time decision-making information required for fighting the ship effectively.
Employment of the "mobility triad" affords LPD 17, current ARGs, and future ESGs with an OTH maneuver capability that extends their operating range and improves threat reaction time. Highly capable air- and surface-search radar systems, the revolutionary Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), the Rolling Airframe Missile system, and the Mk 53 Nulka Decoy Launching System present an impressive array of self-defense capabilities. An upgrade path has been defined to accommodate future advanced radar systems for long-term horizon-search and fire-control requirements on LPD 17 in the 21st century.
The ship will carry two high rate-of-fire Mk 46 Mod 1 automated 30mm Close-in Gun System mounts. The Mk 46 provides long-range lethality while engaging small, high-speed, surface targets. The LPD 17 design also reserves space and weight for adding improvements such as a Vertical Launcher for the Evolved Sea-Sparrow Missile System to boost future capability.
Innovative, Affordable Design
The San Antonio Program has been structured to ensure seamless integration of Navy and Marine Corps assets. With the decision to involve the war fighter from the keel up, the LPD 17 Team embraced a "Design for Ownership" philosophy to interact with the fleet's operating forces - the Navy and Marine Corps operators, maintainers, and trainers who will ultimately use the ship. This unique engineering approach injected warfighter inputs into the development process early on, shaping every element of the ship's program, while simultaneously addressing the warship's fundamental functionality to fine-tune its design and meet the warfighters' needs.
The LPD 17 Program also took advantage of numerous "Smart Technologies" and optimized-manning initiatives to achieve significant cost avoidance in the operating and support costs of this 12-ship Class. Addressing manning and human-systems integration issues early in the developmental process was absolutely essential, since some 60 percent of a ship's total ownership costs - cradle-to-grave - are linked directly to its operating and support expenses. In response, the LPD 17 was designed for a significantly reduced crew size the projected manning of 361 men and women is 14 percent less than that of the smaller and far less-capable LPD-4 ships that the LPD 17 Class replaces.
The San Antonio design reflects a focus on reducing workload. Its all-electric auxiliaries eliminate existing maintenance-intensive steam systems to achieve significant support savings by reducing crew workload over the ship's 40-year lifetime. To further reduce maintenance support requirements, corrosion-resistant materials are used throughout the ship, high solids paint is used on the well deck overhead and ballast tanks, and the ship's interior decks are covered with wear-resistant tile. The ship's design with its hull-length overboard discharges and elimination of cuppers will avoid the repeated painting of running rust down the ship's side.
Enhanced Quality of Service
The Design for Ownership approach led to changes that will enable every Sailor and Marine to focus on warfighting and associated training and less on routine facilities management and own-unit support. The LPD 17 also provides the latest quality-of-life features to help reduce some of the rigors of life at sea. Newly designed gender-neutral living spaces will have "sit-up" berths and adjacent head and lounge facilities. All crewmembers and Marines will be able to access e-mail and Internet services within their berthing spaces via the SWAN.
The SWAN also advances the art of onboard training on the LPD 17 Class. The ship's training department will employ a Total Ship Training System to develop lesson plans, conduct training, and document results. Dedicated training spaces include the Learning Resource Center and Electronic Classroom, and even the ship's chapel has been designed to convert into a Classroom. The ship is designed to support Marine training needs by providing space for an indoor simulated weapons range, as well as other weapons trainers in the well deck and vehicle stowage spaces. Crews will be able to train in their Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles as they interact with the ship's Battle Force Tactical Trainer.
Meeting the Nation's Needs
America's naval expeditionary forces - particularly its multi-mission ARG/MEUs and future ESGs - are at the leading edge of global operations that protect important U.S. interests, allies, and friendly nations. They help maintain peace and stability in troubled regions around the world, provide the foundation for quick, effective response when crises and conflicts erupt, and are expected to be at the leading edge in the War on Terrorism.
When the first Sailors and Marines step onboard USS San Antonio in 2004, they will bring forward a history of expeditionary operations from the sea that began more than two centuries ago. The 12 multimission LPD 17s are the foundation needed for extending that tradition of expeditionary warfare excellence well into the 21st century.
The twelve ships of the LPD 17 Class program will be 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 -- replacing a total of 41 ships.
With acknowledgement to NAVSEA.