|NORFOLK (Nov. 7, 2013) The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) returns to Naval Station Norfolk after completing an eight-month deployment. San Antonio was part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julie Matyascik Released)|
No ship returns from deployment looking good, but every once and awhile we get to see the 'other' side of a ship returning home from deployment - and by other side, I'm talking about the side that doesn't face the pier.
USS San Antonio (LPD 17) was designed for regular six month deployments. The ship is less than eight years old, and the ship is returning from only her second deployment. The deployment was eight months, not six. Longer deployments are becoming increasingly common for all amphibious ship deployments.
The San Antonio class amphibious transport docks are designed to be optimally manned compared to the Austin class LPDs. Basically that means USS San Antonio (LPD 17) has 60 fewer sailors than the Austin class LPDs, even though USS San Antonio (LPD 17) is over 7000 tons bigger than the Austin class LPDs.
The San Antonio class LPDs are designed for a 40 year service life. The most recent US Navy shipbuilding plan is based upon these ships serving 43 years, not 40 years.
So in summary, at less than eight years old USS San Antonio (LPD 17) is looking pretty rough after returning from only her second deployment. At 25,000 tons the ship is
I lack confidence in this the plan to keep USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and her sister ships in service until 2049. It's hard to believe that any Navy and Marine Corps leaders actually believe this is a legitimate and workable plan.