Amos: Replace LSD amphib fleet with LPDs

Amos: Replace LSD amphib fleet with LPDs

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos recommended the Navy replace its dock-landing ships (LSD) with the San Antonio-class amphibious platform docks (LPD) just days after he oversaw the commissioning of the Navy’s newest LPD, the Arlington.

Amos made his recommendation with a caveat Monday at the Sea Air Space Expo sponsored by the Navy League at National Harbor, Md. He said the service must work to make the San Antonion-class LPD more affordable.

An LPD costs about $1.4 billion to build. The ship can transport 800 Marines as well as the 400 sailors that make up its crew.

The Arlington (LPD 24) was commissioned on April 6 in Norfolk. Amphibious transport dock (LPD 25) Somerset is set to go to sea trials this summer and be delivered to the fleet by the end of the year, said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin Edenzon.

The Navy has planned to replace the LSD fleet with a program to build 10 ships. The last one would be delivered by 2032. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the average cost of the LSD replacement ships will cost $1.2 billion per ship.

Navy officials plan to deliver the first LSDs between 2018 and 2022 before the older ones retire. The Navy sees this as a hedge on the risk it took reducing the amphibious ship fleet from 33 to 30.

The cuts to the Navy’s amphibious fleet left many Marine Corps leaders frustrated and worried the service was losing its amphibious roots after ten years fighting land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The LPD and LSD fleet share similitaries. The major difference is the LPD has a hangar to embark helicopters while the LSD has a helicopter landing area but no hangar.

Ingalls Shipbuilding builds the LPD fleet and supported the commandant’s recommendation, Edenzon said. Ingalls has made the case to utilize the LPD as a LSD replacement and it appears it is receiving support on the highest levels of leadership.

With budgets tightened by sequestration, Edenzon said the Navy will have to perform more missions from single hulls. He highlighted the possibility of building a ballistic missile defense variant of the LPD.

The LPD has the “ability to be the truck” of the Navy’s amphibious fleet, Edenzon said.

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If they can get costs down, which I assume will happen with more hulls purchased this is probably a good idea. The later San Antonio hulls seem to be doing well in their sea trials so they’ve apparently got the construction errors take care of that plagued it early on. Be interested to see a price tag on a BMD variant.

Closely related to what is reported here about Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos recommendations… On March 17, 2013, Defense news posted a story purporting leaked information about a classified 2012 memo “Vision for the 2025 Surface Fleet”, from Vice Admiral Tom Copeman to CNO Adm. Jon Greenert. Vice Admiral Tom Copeman is Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Here is an excerpt from that story pertaining to the discussion about building a new class of LSDs using a de-contented LPD 17 design, “…recommended, sources said, is a replacement for today’s dock landing ships limited to capability and capacity actually needed, rather than the expensive San Antonio-class LPD 17 amphibious transport dock ships (LPDs) being built. Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls already is proposing a scaled-down LPD, dubbed LPD Flight II, that keeps the LPD 17’s big hull but dispenses with many of the 17’s more expensive features and larger superstructure.”

Those Marines… never seen an expensive solution that they didn’t want to buy. They really have lost their way…

The more LPD 17 hulls that are built, I think will increase the odds we will see a BMD variant. What does not make sense to me is with all of the power these ships use, why are they not nuke powered?

So, wait, they’d essentially keep the LPD-17s in series production until 2032, buying 10 more ships to the existing plan…yet the cost would still be $1.2 billion per ship? Whatever happened to economies of scale?

I actually agree. However, I believe that the Marines are speaking of the New varient the LPD-flight II.

Cheaper, easier to man and maintain. LOTS of deck space.

That is $200 million cheaper. 200 million. I know big #s get thrown around in regards to military programs, but that is also 15% cheaper.

Of course, the Marines want bigger and bigger ships. They don’t have to pay for them. They have the best deal. They are their own army, have their own navy and air force, and don’t have to pay the bills. And, eventually, their big deck amphibs will displace at least half the Navy’s big deck carriers.

Propulsion and electrical generation are light in comparison to a flight II DDG. VLS on the bow in an area with a 155ft. beam vs. the DDG 60ft. beam. USN should have more commonality between similar systems on different type boats. LPDs should definitely replace the existing LSDs.

Get rid of the marines and the requirement goes away, along with a host of other failures.

Good idea, oblatt1. YOU have inspired a new idea. Get rid of DOD, and WAR and KILLING and DESTRUCTION and DEATH GOES AWAY!.…YOU are a genius, oblatt1…thank-you…

They are ships not boats. Except for submarines boats are vessels that are carried on ships. The floor is a deck, the wall a bulkhead, the ceiling and overhead, and the stairs a ladder. Is a 155 ft. beam too big for the Panama canal? It is being expanded but is 155 ft. too wide for the “BIG BOAT”


Let me Amphibian this correctly. Someone wants to replace the LSD41 and 49 Class with ten (10) new LPD17 Class ships. Has anyone counted the carrying spots for LCACs / SSCs on these ships yet ? LPD17’s can carry two (2) of them. LSD 41 can carry four (4) plus an additional LCAC termed an Administrative lift = 5. If my math works out that is 12 LSDs.….. 8 with 4 operative spots and 4 ships with 2 spots.….total = 40 spots. With 10 new LPDs proposed, again if my new math works = 20 spots. This sounds like the new age cookie packaging where you get less cookies but the same package costs more. So when the corporate designers at HII and/or their New Orleans located yard charges more up front change costs.….lets see where this cost ends up. The LSDs are/just went thru SLEP.….Maintain them correctly and they’ll give you more years and less taxes.

The LPD-17s represent significant added value and significantly lower total (procurement and O&S) life cycle costs over the LPD 4 class of ships. (http://​elementsofpower​.blogspot​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​5​/​s​h​i​p​s​-​a​n​d​-​s​e​a​l​i​n​g​-​w​a​x​-​l​c​s​-​a​n​d​-​l​p​d​.​h​tml). Factor in that the San Antonio Class is replacing FOUR classes of ships (LKA-113, LSD-36, LST-1179 and the LPD-4) and it is even a better bargain. If you just want a ‘single mission’ ship, then yes, you can ‘decontent’ a variant of the LPD 17, and make it cheaper, but I doubt you will come up with a cheaper way to perform whatever missions get ‘decontented’.

Probably because much like the LSD’s in service Diesel is cheaper to operate over the lifespan and this allows the navy to lease the powerplants, which they can’t do on the nuke side.

The LSD 49 class has the same two LCAC spots as the LPD 17 class, and maybe the fact that the later LSD 49 class ships were cut down to two spots from the four of the LSD 41 class ships indicates that they don’t believe they need to be carrying four LCAC’s and prefer to have additional cargo space.

Since they’re not talking about exactly the LPD 17 class, but rather an evolution of it, lengthening the dock is probably something they would consider if needed to fit three or four LCAC.

As for the New Orleans yard making changes to its LPD 17 design (the ship was designed primarilly at Avondale in New Orleans), that is highly unlikely since HII is shutting the Avondale yard down, even though it was Avondale Industries, at the time teamed with Bath Iron Works and Raytheon, that won the original LPD 17 contract (that was when there were six major naval vessel yards in the US that have now been consolidated into the duopoly of HII and General Dynamics).


The Marines were doing amphibious assault landings long before WWII, and been improving their touches ever since. They have a knack for getting the job done faster and at a lower cost than expected. If they say that they need the new San Antonio class LPDs, give them to them. We keep sending the Marines all over this world right now where ever there is trouble or a need of aid, so give them the best ship to do the job.

Nice to do but no money to make the switch.

155ft beams would be to wide for the Panama Canal (110ft wide locks). But, luckily the San Antonio Class only have a beam of 105ft.

Mac the LPD-17 are already cash hogs, why would you want to buy a not so good ship from a poor shipyard, and keep it around longer?
The LSD-49 have significantly more cargo capacity and the Marines have already said they need more cargo space for heavier and bigger tactical equipment, and they need more connectors which mean more spots. LPD-17 is less in all those capacities. To continue the truck analogy, why buy a big expensive SUV to replace a large semi-trailer truck?
The replacing class idea does not work for me because I believe there shoud be MORE ships in an ARG not alll the eggs in just three hulls~
Start point is the LPD-17 is expensive NOW and anytime you say change order to a shipbuilder, the costs go UP more. When we we learn that more costly ships is NOT the answer?

Tom you about nailed it. The LSD-49 class can be modified (most likely by widening to 100 ft~) to be used for LSD(X) unless the Navy gets lost in its LX® concept?~~~
Widening would also give more LC spots, bigger flight deck and more cargo space.
Ingalls is better than Avondale but not by much.


“…the expanded Panama Canal will be able to handle upon completion of the works in 2014. Consequently, we hereby summarize the major elements of the expansion program and their critical dimensions. Each of the new lock complexes will have three chambers, and each chamber will have water-saving basins that will permit the reutilization of up to 60% of the water employed in the lockage of a vessel. The chamber dimensions of the new locks will be 427 meters long, 55 meters wide and 18.3 meters deep. The corresponding maximum dimensions for vessels that will transit these locks are 366 meters LOA, 49 meters in beam and 15.2 meters in tropical freshwater (TFW) draft. These dimensions are being used to define the New Panamax size vessel.”

What? Marines have been doing more with less since Tun Tavern.

Your lack of understanding about the role of the military departments is only surpassed by your ignorance of world politics.

Your comment is most relevant. I know that Panama is betting alot on the new lock system for ‘post-Panamax ships, but I think they will be disappointed by the ratio of military to commercial transits, with the commercial transits lower than hoped for. Because of a study I was involved in last year I now know more than I ever wanted to know about the global “transmodal” transportation system (think ‘containers’) and even Southern US ports are finding it tough to compete with northern ports for goods moving between Asia and Europe. It is now faster and cheaper for many goods to ship from Asia to, say Vancouver, Portland or Seattle, offload to trains going East, load on ships again on the east coast and sail to Europe and Middle East than it is to sail down to Panama and back north again. It work both directions. Parts of the world now have essentially a hub and spoke system where the really big ships only move between 2 or 3 major container ports and smaller ships transship to what we would think of as historically ‘major’ ports.


Makes sense… it seems like LSD is a bit too little and LPD is a bit too much for what’s needed, making a scaled down LPD a practical goal.

The number and type of amphibious delivery vessels has always perplexed me. They are generally variations on well-deck/no-well-deck, quantity of LCACs, cargo carried and hangar size for the air wing.

Don’t forget we have the LPD here and the new LHAs (the America class).

What we should do, is complete building any large deck carriers — but then start building more LHA’s and LHD’s as alternatives. That way, our carriers eventually become less tempting targets, gives us the ability to more effectively distribute assets, gives the marines the ride they need to wherever they need to go, while providing a more versatile response package at the same time.

Thanks, typo. :(


Thanks, I was testing to see if any Navy folks were reading this thread. Sorry for the aggravation. LPDs are definitely USN ships. :)

Fair winds and following seas.

Thank You for your service to our nation.

I’m sorry, but what other failures? We have the smallest budget of the military, but yet we tend to achieve more with less. We are still using helos that date back to Vietnam, and most of the .50 cals we had or at least that my company received (1/2 WPNS) in Iraq were date from ww2. If I am not mistaken, the army has had a world of failures from uniforms to experimental weapons, and everything in between. You might want to do a little research before you decide to take a dump out of your mouth.

Many reasons to not power LPD17s with nuclear reactors. Nuclear power plants are hideously expensive to build and operate. The fact that commerical cargo ships are not built with nuclear power plants should be strong evidence of this fact.

Whether or not there is ever a BMD variant… which would be a ship with the lower hull form of an LPD but othewise a very different design, will end up being mostly a political decision. The LPD hullform is fairly large for a warship which ends up adding to the acquisition and operating costs.

Contrary to popular rumor, the Navy does NOT lease the diesels on LSDs.

Um No. The Marines “have” fewer amphibious ships now then they have had in many many years. This is true of both big decks (LHA/LHD) and small decks (LPD/LSD). There are whole classes/types of amphibs like LPHs, LSTs and LKAs that aren’t in the inventory any longer. The smaller population of amphibs is shown by the fact that deploying Amphib Ready Groups now consist of 3 ships when they used to be 5 ships.

Sorry but its not all about LCAC spots by a long shot. Look at LCUs which haul a lot more of the bulk stuff and how many an LSD can embark vs an LPD. Now if the plan is to take the LPD17 hullform and make the welldeck longer by removing some of the aviation support spaces then I think it might be workable.

Lee, good call on the number of ships in an ARG. While I don;t see a return to the five ships that used to make up and ARG, I do think that 4 would be an improvement

The chiefs are most certainly looking at this option. Imagine having 10–12 newish LHA’s that, with a deck full of F-35’s can create havoc all over the place and allow the big decks to to go in for a much heavier punch. Both the Navy and Marines win in this stuation and the navy could lighten up on the Ford’s. This could all be done for the (roughly) same amount as the planned big decks (assuming they want to stay at 12) all the way through 2040… I’d far rather have a distributed force with as much or greater punch. Even throw in small fleet of X-47 Drone only ships and you’ve got a force that is coming at you from all directions at once. Game over.

Bigger Target with more marines. What happens if one of these huge, juicy targets gets hit and sunk. 800 marines and 400 sailors lost in 1 strike. I always like the idea of not keeping too many eggs in one basket.

The LPD and LSD each have a different role, in spite of the fact that they share a hull form that is similar in appearance. That is not to say that the same hull and engineering cannot be used for both missions, with a significant change in the internal allocation of space. For example, the LSD’s generally have a much larger well deck than that of the LPD’s. Overall, the Commandant has a good point. The concept just needs some work.

True, but don’t forget the LHA.

Two of the LHA’s will ditch well decks for mini-carrier/helicarrier status.

The remainder of the LHA and the LPD have welldecks, along with legacy LSD/LPD/LHD.

Are you a fan of the Iranian speedboat strategy? Or the Littoral Combat Ship?

Osprey, F35 and EFV will explain how wrong you are. this isn’t brute krulak’s USMC anymore.


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