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Dock Landing Ship – LSD


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The U.S. Navy’s Dock Landing Ships (LSD) support amphibious operations by transporting and launching amphibious craft, vehicles, and embarked personnel in assault maneuvers. LSDs are engineered with well docks to serve as a launching pad for Landing Craft, Air Cushions (LCAC), traditional landing craft, and rotorcraft onto enemy shores.

The Whidbey Island-class ships were built to transport and launch air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC). The ships also provide docking and repair facilities for LCACs and for a range of conventional military, utility and personnel landing craft and also provide landing facilities for helicopters. The Harpers Ferry-class vessels provide an increased cargo capacity and reduces the number of air cushioned landing craft carried from four to two. The dock landing ships are furnished with a landing platform for two Sikorsky Sea Stallion helicopters. The Sea Stallions helicopters, designation CH-53D, each have the capacity to carry up to 38 Marines and are equipped to carry out assault, support and transport operations.

The 12 Whidbey Island-class and Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ships are currently undergoing mid-life upgrade works to allow them to remain in service until 2038. The upgrade work began in 1998 and is expected to be complete by 2014. Metro Machine Corp. is carrying out the modernization of the ships based on the east coast, while National Steel and Shipbuilding is undertaking the upgrade of ships homeported on the west coast.

The upgrades include diesel engine improvements including upgrade of fuel, maintenance savings systems and engineering control systems, air conditioning / chill water capacity optimization, and the replacement of air compressors and all-electric steam systems.

The following are currently deployed Harpers Ferry-class ships:

  • USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49), San Diego, CA
  • USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), Little Creek, VA
  • USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), Little Creek, VA
  • USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52), San Diego, CA

The specifications for Harpers Ferry-class ships are as follows:

Builder Avondale Industries Inc., New Orleans, LA.
Propulsion Four Colt Industries, 16 Cylinder Diesels, two shafts, 33,000 shaft horsepower.
Length 609 feet (185.6 meters).
Beam 84 feet.
Displacement 16,708 tons (16,976.13 metric tons) full load.
Speed 20+ knots (23.5+ miles per hour).
Crew Ships Company:22 officers, 397 enlisted; Marine Detachment: 402 plus 102 surge.
Armament Two 25mm MK 38 Machine Guns, Two 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts and Six .50 cal. machine guns, two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) mounts.
Landing/Attack Craft Two Landing Craft, Air Cushion.

The following are active Whidbey Island-class vessels:

  • USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), Little Creek, VA
  • USS Germantown (LSD-42), Sasebo, Japan
  • USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), Little Creek, VA
  • USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), Little Creek, VA
  • USS Comstock (LSD-45), San Diego, CA
  • USS Tortuga (LSD-46), Sasebo, Japan
  • USS Rushmore (LSD-47), San Diego, CA
  • USS Ashland (LSD-48), Little Creek, VA

The specifications for Whidbey Island-class ships are as follows:

Builder Lockheed Shipbuilding, Seattle, Wa. - LSD 41-43;Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, LA - LSD 44 - LSD 48.
Date Deployed Feb. 9, 1985 (USS Whidbey Island)
Propulsion Four Colt Industries, 16 Cylinder Diesels, two shafts, 33,000 shaft horsepower.
Length 609 feet (185.6 meters).
Beam 84 feet.
Displacement 15,939 tons (16,194.79 metric tons) full load.
Speed 20+ knots (23.5+ miles per hour).
Crew Ships Company: 22 officers, 391 enlisted; Marine Detachment: 402 plus 102 surge.
Armament Two 25mm MK 38 Machine Guns; Two 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts and Six .50 cal. machine guns, two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) mounts.
Landing/Attack Craft Four Landing Craft, Air Cushion.