VESSEL REVIEW | Fort Lauderdale – US Navy amphibious ship boasts large expeditionary transport capacity

Photo: US Navy

The US Navy recently took delivery of the future USS Fort Lauderdale, the 12th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding Division in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Named after the coastal city of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, the ship has an LOA of 684 feet (208.5 metres), a beam of 104 feet (31.9 metres), a draught of 23 feet (seven metres), and a displacement of 25,000 tons (22,670 tonnes) at full load. Four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines that each produce 40,000 hp (29,828 kW) propel the ship to speeds of up to 22 knots.

Like its San Antonio-class sisters, the future Fort Lauderdale is designed to support embarking, transporting, and landing US Marines and their equipment by conventional landing craft (LCU) or air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC). The well deck can accommodate either one LCU or two LCACs, and the ship’s capabilities are further enhanced by its flight deck and hangar, enabling the ship to operate a variety of helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22).

Photo: Huntington Ingalls Industries

Up to 699 marines and their equipment can be embarked in addition to the ship’s own crew complement of 28  officers and 333 enlisted sailors. The accommodation spaces include a fitness centre, a learning resource centre, an onboard mall, two operating theatres, and 124 patient beds. The San Antonio-class ships have slightly reduced troop-carrying capacity compared to the Austin-class amphibious transport docks they were built to replace, but the newer vessels offer significantly greater capacity for transporting vehicles compared to their predecessors.

Because of the San Antonio-class ships’ inherent capabilities, they are able to support a variety of amphibious assault, special operations, expeditionary warfare, or disaster relief missions, operating independently or as part of Amphibious Readiness Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups, or Joint Task Forces.

The ship also boasts a number of survivability-enhancing features such as those that reduce its radar cross-section and magnetic signature. The superstructure is hardened against shock and blast protection ensures improved safety even in the event of a nuclear detonation. Its active self-defence armament meanwhile includes two launchers for Rolling Airframe Missiles for use against airborne threats and two Bushmaster 30-millimetre autocannon for dealing with surface threats. An advanced ship self-defence system (SSDS) integrates the various onboard sensors to ensure the weaponry can quickly and automatically react to defend against air and missile attack.

The navy is scheduled to formally welcome Fort Lauderdale into service via a commissioning ceremony in its namesake city on July 30 this year. It will be homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.

Photo: US Navy

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Fort Lauderdale
Type of vessel:Amphibious Transport Dock
Owner:US Navy
Builder:Huntington Ingalls Industries, USA
Length overall:684 feet (208.5 metres)
Beam:104 feet (31.9 metres)
Draught:23 feet (7.0 metres)
Displacement:25,000 tons (22,670 tonnes)
Main engines:4 x Colt-Pielstick, each 40,000 hp (29,828 kW)
Maximum speed:22 knots
Armaments:Rolling Airframe Missiles; 2 x Bushmaster cannons
Type of fuel:Diesel
Accommodation:Fitness centre; learning resource centre; mall; 2 x operating theatres

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