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USS San Antonio (LPD-17)
USS San Antonio (LPD-17) deploy
Name: USS San Antonio
Namesake: The city of San Antonio, Texas
Awarded: 17 December 1996
Builder: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems
Laid down: 9 December 2000
Launched: 12 July 2003
Sponsored by: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Commissioned: 14 January 2006
Homeport: Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
Motto: "Never Retreat, Never Surrender"
Status: in active service, as of 2020
Notes: Program cost $18.6 billion[1]
Unit cost $1.7 billion (FY 2011)[1]
Badge: USS San Antonio LPD-17 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class & type: San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock
Displacement: 25,000 tons full
Length: 208.5 m (684 ft) overall,
201.4 m (661 ft) waterline
Beam: 31.9 m (105 ft) extreme,
29.5 m (97 ft) waterline
Draft: 7 m (23 ft)
Propulsion: Four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, two shafts, 40,000 hp (30 MW)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Two LCACs (air cushion); OR
One LCU (conventional)
Capacity: 699 (66 officers, 633 enlisted); surge to 800 total.
Complement: 363 (28 officers, 335 enlisted)[2]
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Radar: AN/SPS-48E, AN/SPQ-9B, AN/SPS-73.
EW: AN/SLQ-25A Nixie, AN/SLQ-32A(V)2, Mark 36 SRBOC, MK 53 / Nulka.[3]
Armament: Two 30 mm Bushmaster II cannons, for surface threat defense; MK46 30mm, GDLS
Two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers for air defense
Aircraft carried: Four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters OR two MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft may be launched or recovered simultaneously.

USS San Antonio (LPD-17), the lead ship of her class of amphibious transport dock or landing platform dock, is the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the city of San Antonio, Texas. The ship is designed to deliver up to 800 Marines ashore by landing craft and helicopters.

Construction and commissioning[edit | edit source]

The construction contract was awarded on 17 December 1996 to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems of New Orleans, Louisiana and the keel was laid down on 9 December 2000. The ship was launched on 12 July 2003 and christened on 19 July by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She was originally scheduled to be commissioned 17 July 2002, but was delayed by poor performance at the Avondale shipyard, which resulted in her being towed from New Orleans to the Northrop Grumman shipyard at Pascagoula, Mississippi, in December 2004 for completion. The ship was unable to move under her own power at that time, despite having been christened more than a year earlier.

USS San Antonio arrives at Port Everglades, Fla., 1 May 2006.

The crew took delivery and moved aboard three days before Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. Work was delayed further when the ship became a base for regional relief efforts, including accommodations for some shipyard workers, the National Guard, Navy diving and salvage personnel and government officials. The ship's final cost was $840 million over budget.[4]

The ship arrived in her homeport of Norfolk, Va., on 18 December 2005. The ship was finally commissioned 14 January 2006, at NS Ingleside Texas under the command of Captain Jonathan M. Padfield. Guest speakers included former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. Senator Hutchison, the ship's sponsor, gave the crew the customary first command, "Man our ship, and bring her to life!"

Improvements[edit | edit source]

San Antonio is the first U.S. Navy vessel to incorporate new crew comfort features, including bunks with increased headroom, in-rack fans, and pull-out laptop computer shelves. She is also the largest U.S. Navy vessel to incorporate stealth features, with close attention paid to exterior shaping.

  • Major antennas are mounted on platforms inside two Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor systems rather than on traditional mast yardarms.
  • Deck edges are bounded by shaped bulwarks rather than lifeline stanchions. These bulwarks are hollow and double as storage lockers, eliminating locker clutter on decks.
  • Exterior equipment is recessed or flush-mounted where possible, giving the ship a clean exterior appearance. Any equipment that cannot be flush-mounted (such as ladders) incorporate shaping features of their own.
  • The boat-handling crane at the center of the ship folds into a clean shape when not in use.[5]
  • The anchor and anchor pocket are shaped to minimize radar backscatter.

Ship's Coat of Arms[edit | edit source]

The colors of the shield and star are adapted from the Texas state flag. The star also commemorates the "Lone Star" and first ship to bear the name San Antonio. Red is the color for valor and sacrifice, blue is for loyalty and white, purity of purpose. The Alamo honors the heroes who offered their lives to ensure the freedom of Texas. The bluebonnets refer to the beauty and majesty of Texas and the olive branch highlights the ship's peacekeeping mission. The trident and cannon represent the old and new weaponry. The cannon balls and nineteenth century cannon were similar weapons used by the brave men that defended the Alamo. The trident, symbol of sea prowess, also represents the "mobility triad" that USS San Antonio is built for. The crossed Navy and Marine Corps swords represent cooperation and teamwork of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

First deployment[edit | edit source]

USS San Antonio, CTF-151 flagship

Mission[edit | edit source]

USS San Antonio served as a flagship for Combined Task Force 151, the multi-national anti-piracy naval force off Somalia. The ship acted as an Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) for the following force elements:

During its time off Africa, the crew boarded 20 foreign vessels. The crew discovered hidden explosives on one of the vessels. The ship returned to Norfolk on 27 March 2009.[4]

Problems and incidents[edit | edit source]

Amphibious Assault Vehicles in San Antonio's well deck in March 2008

Nearly three years after commissioning, problems persist with this first-in-class vessel. On 27 January 2006, a contract worth over $6 million was awarded to Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, for the Post-Shakedown Availability of USS San Antonio. Work was expected to be completed by April 2007. On 22 June 2007, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter sent a letter to Northrop Grumman outlining problems with the ship, from leaks to steerage issues, stating, "Twenty-three months after commissioning of LPD 17, the Navy still does not have a mission-capable ship.[11][12]

On 27 August 2008, San Antonio was unable to deploy as scheduled with the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), due to a mechanical failure in the stern gate of her well deck, which would prevent proper loading and deployment of landing craft. The problem was fixed and San Antonio deployed two days late, on 29 August 2008.[13]

Two months into her maiden deployment, San Antonio had been forced to undergo an unplanned maintenance stop in Bahrain due to leaks in its lube oil piping system.[14] During inspections in summer 2009 it was found that over 1,000 feet of piping had to be replaced. In late November the ship's four diesel engines were out of commission and needed to be re-inspected after metal shavings were found in the engine's main reduction gears from when the shipyard workers at the shipbuilder, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems had improperly welded the piping. During a February 2009 transit of the Suez Canal, with both engines at full power, one engine suddenly went into reverse, sending the vessel careening out of control and narrowly missing hitting other ships and running aground.[15]

In response to these problems the Navy finally got approval to hire sufficient Supervisor of Shipbuilding officers in 2009.[16]

In October 2010, the Department of Defense released a report outlining numerous engineering flaws in the San Antonio. A top aide in the Department of Defense was quoted as saying that Northrop Grumman's ships are "not effective, suitable and not survivable in combat". The report also blamed Raytheon Co., a subcontractor providing fiber optics, electrical and anti-missile systems for the San Antonio, for "persistent engineering deficiencies."[17]

During an anti-piracy mission in February 2009, one of the ship's crew, Petty Officer 1st Class Theophilus K. Ansong, 34, of Bristol, Virginia, was killed in a small boat accident in the Gulf of Aden. The ship's captain, Commander Eric C. Cash, was reprimanded over the incident at an admiral's mast by Admiral J.C. Harvey Jr., the commander of Fleet Forces Command.[18][19] Another officer, Lieutenant Commander Sean Kearns, the ship's executive officer refused a mast over the same incident and was court-martialed in October and November 2010. During the trial, his defense team presented evidence of the ship's numerous deficiencies and lack of written procedures as contributing to the accident.[20][21] Kearns was acquitted of the charges on 5 November 2010.[22] Kearns stated that the ship's officers had been pressured by the Navy to declare the ship ready to deploy even though they knew that it still had significant, unresolved problems.[15][23]

In April 2011- after nearly two years of constant repair work at various shipyards in Norfolk, VA- the Navy started an investigation [24] into the constant mechanical and engineering issues with San Antonio. The Executive Director of the Regional Maintenance Activity (RMC), Thomas J. Murphy, managing the work was relieved and transferred, as were the senior Waterfront Operations personnel. The Navy said that two contractors, Earl Industries, the prime contractor, and Fairbanks Morse, the engine manufacturer, were unwilling or unable to provide complete documentation into what was fixed on the ship and how.[25] As a result the Navy suspended Norfolk Ship Support Activity's oversight authority.[26] On 6 May 2011, the Navy canceled its maintenance contract with Earl Industries, citing, "improper work performed and concern regarding Earl Industries' quality assurance program and the company's ability to control the quality and documentation of work it performs."[27]

On 26 May 2011, after 10 days of sea trials, the ship's Captain, Commander Thomas Kait, declared the ship's power plants fit for duty.[28][29] The ship completed the trials on 15 June 2011 and was scheduled for a short training deployment from July to August 2011.[30] In July 2011 the U.S.S. San Antonio's Diesel Engine's intercoolers were found to be mechanically deficient after the ship failed to gain full power causing the ship to return to be repaired.[31] The repairs also found deficiencies in work performed by Earl Industries. The repairs were completed on 3 August 2011.[32]

As of August 2011, the Navy now says that all problems with the ship's engines have been corrected including "foreign material exclusion plugs left in the drain piping system, use of incorrect material and improper installation and sealing of gaskets".[33]

Award[edit | edit source]

In March 2012, the ship was awarded the Navy's Battle Effectiveness award. In winning the award, the ship beat out four other amphibious ships, and will have a big "E" painted on her superstructure.[34]

August 2013 Deployment[edit | edit source]

In late August 2013 Washington confirmed that the USS San Antonio had entered into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They stressed it was a long-planned action and not related to the arrival of destroyers which had been stationed there due to the conflict in Syria, but officials thought it prudent to keep the ship near the destroyers given the situation. In early October 2013, Al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi was seized in Libya and then transferred to the USS San Antonio to await transport to the United States for a trial and questioning.[35]

References[edit | edit source]

This article contains information from the Naval Vessel Registry and various other U.S. Navy Web sites.

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2012 Pentagon Spending Request". Costofwar.Com. 2011-02-15. http://costofwar.com/en/publications/2011/analysis-fiscal-year-2012-pentagon-spending-request/. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  2. USS San Antonio - About Us. U.S. Navy.
  3. "LPD-17 SAN ANTONIO-class (formerly LX Class)". Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/navy/amphibious/lpd17.html. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hansen, Louis, "After Shaky Start, Ship Gets Its Sea Legs", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 29 March 2009.
  5. "Pictures of LPD-17 "stealth crane" undergoing tests". Alliedsystems.com. 2001-09-20. http://www.alliedsystems.com/News/lpd17test.htm. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hilley, MC1 Monique K. (20 January 2009). "Navy, CG Training to Combat Piracy". Navy News. http://www.military.com/news/article/navy-news/navy-cg-training-to-combat-piracy.html?col=1186032311124. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Goodwin, Brian (19 January 2009). "San Antonio Key to Counterpiracy Mission". Defence Professional. http://www.defpro.com/news/details/4953/. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  8. Hilley, MC1 Monique K. (23 January 2009). "Steady Hands, Ever-Watchful Eyes: Scout Snipers Stand the Watch". Navy News. http://www.emilitary.org/article.php?aid=14050. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  9. Mills, Cpl Jason D. (9 January 2009). "Skids Fly to San Antonio". Marine Corps News. http://www.military.com/news/article/marine-corps-news/skids-fly-to-san-antonio.html?col=1186032366495. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  10. Gibbons, Timothy J. (28 January 2009). "San Navy helicopter squadron helps fight pirates". The Florida Times-Union. http://www.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2009-01-27/story/navy_helo_squadron_helps_fight_pirates. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  11. "Navy criticizes "mismanagement"". Seattletimes.nwsource.com. 2007-07-02. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003770672_btbriefs02.html. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  12. "An American Tragedy". strategypage.com, 4 August 2010.
  13. "Mechanical Failure Keeps Troubled LPD at Pier". Navytimes.com. http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/08/navy_sanantonio_082608w/. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  14. "San Antonio laid up in Bahrain". Navy Times, 9 November 2008.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Reilly, Corinne, "Shipshape? The San Antonio, Finally, Almost Is There", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 27 February 2011.
  16. "CRS RL34476 Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress July 07, 2010". Opencrs.com. http://opencrs.com/document/RL34476/2010-07-07/?25083. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  17. Capaccio, Tony (28 October 2010) "Northrop Navy Ships `Not Survivable' in Combat, Official Says". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 28 October 2010
  18. Hansen, Louis. "After Shaky Start, Ship Gets Its Sea Legs". Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 29 March 2009.
  19. Wittmeyer, Alicia P. Q., "Navy Commander Reprimanded For Sailor's Drowning", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 15 May 2010.
  20. Wiltrout, Kate, "Accused Officer Pegs Defense To San Antonio's Defects", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 2 November 2010.
  21. Wiltrout, Kate, "San Antonio Crew Faced Obstacles, Former Leader Testifies", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 3 November 2010.
  22. Wiltrout, Kate, "San Antonio Officer Cleared Of Negligence In Drowning", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 6 November 2010.
  23. McMmichael, William H., "Leadership memo cites San Antonio fatality", Military Times, 27 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  24. Reilly, Corinne (2011-04-15). "Reilly, Corinne, "Investigation launched into San Antonio repairs"". Hamptonroads.com. http://hamptonroads.com/2011/04/investigation-launched-san-antonio-repairs. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  25. Reilly, Corinne, "Investigation Puts Troubled Ship Back Under The Gun", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 15 April 2011, p. 1.
  26. Reilly, Corinne. "Navy suspends command's ship-repair oversight." The Virginian-Pilot, 20 April 2011.
  27. McCabe, Robert, "Navy Cancels Earl Industries Contract Over San Antonio Work", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 7 May 2011.
  28. Reilly, Corinne, "Navy's San Antonio Leaves For Testing At Sea", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 18 May 2011.
  29. Sizemore, Bill, "Overhauled San Antonio Deemed Fit For Duty", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 27 May 2011.
  30. McMichael, William H., "Crew: Amphib San Antonio finally fixed", Military Times, 15 June 2011.
  31. Reilly, Corinne (2011-07-20). "Navy's beleaguered San Antonio has another setback | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com". HamptonRoads.com. http://hamptonroads.com/2011/07/navys-beleaguered-san-antonio-has-another-setback. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  32. McMichael, William H., "San Antonio ready for work-ups, Navy says", Military Times, 3 August 2011.
  33. Munoz, Carlo (4 August 2011). "Navy Says New Amphib Is Ship Shape, Finally". Defense.aol.com. http://defense.aol.com/2011/08/04/navy-claims-new-amphib-is-ship-shape-finally/. 
  34. Wiltrout, Kate, "San Antonio Earns Navy's Distinguished Battle 'E' Title", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 3 March 2012.
  35. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/world/africa/a-terrorism-suspect-long-known-to-prosecutors.html?emc=edit_na_20131006

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