The US Navy (USN) believes it is on track to provide the US Marine Corps with the 38 amphibious ships the marines say they need.
The USN’s fleet includes so-called big-deck amphibious assault ships – landing helicopter assaults (LHAs) and landing helicopter docks (LHDs) – and small-deck amphibious ships – landing platform dock (LPD) or landing ship dock (LSD). The navy’s former 308-ship force-level goal called for 34 amphibious ships, but its new 355-ship force-level goal demands 38 amphibious ships: 12 LHA/LHD-types, 13 LPD 17-class ships, and 13 LSD/LX(R)-type ships.
Captain Brian Metcalf, programme manager for the LPD 17 and LX(R) programmes, said during a 10 January briefing at an annual Surface Navy Association conference that the USN is steaming towards its goal for amphibious vessels.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) delivered John P Murtha (LPD 26), the USN's 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, in May 2016, it was commissioned in October 2017, and is “weeks away from being turned over to the fleet”, Capt Metcalf said.
Murtha will be homeported in San Diego and “should be on deployment next year”, he added. The vessel’s post shakedown availability (PSA) is expected in February 2018, Capt Metcalf said.
Portland (LPD 27) was delivered by HII in September and is expected to arrive in San Diego, where it and Murtha will be homeported, in January. Portland ’s post delivery test and trials are to run from January 2018 through March 2019, according to Capt Metcalf.
He noted that Portland will host another prototype defensive laser system that will be similar to but more powerful than the 30 kW laser weapon system (LaWS) fitted on Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB (I) 15).
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