The recent, highly critical Navy Board of Inspection and Survey report on the amphibious transport dock San Antonio (LPD-17), and the subsequent news stories and the questions raised in Congress, may cause a reevaluation of the future of the U.S. amphibious force. The San Antonio is the first of a planned class of up to 12 large amphibious ships, intended to help compensate for reductions in the amphibious ship numbers by her size and capabilities.1
The inspection report was highly critical of the ship, noting numerous deficiencies and poor workmanship in scores of areas. Still, a senior naval officer, familiar with the LPD program, has observed that the report "was better than most for lead ships," and said that the San Antonio "performed well on her sea trials." The San Antonio and the previous LPD class as well as the latest dock landing ship (LSD) and amphibious assault ship (LHD) classes are compared in Table 1. The San Antonio provides considerably more capability than the LPD-4, albeit at a much greater displacement—and at relatively greater cost.