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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 511-03
July 16, 2003

Navy Christens Amphibious Ship

     The U.S. Navy will christen the lead ship of the latest class of amphibious ships, San Antonio, Saturday, July 19, 2003, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans.

     Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas will serve as ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted in the time-honored Navy tradition when Hutchison christens the ship by breaking a bottle of Texas sparkling wine across its bow.

     The ship’s prospective commanding officer, Cmdr. Jonathan M. Padfield, a native of Salt Lake City, will lead a crew of approximately 360 officers and enlisted Navy personnel. The ship is capable of embarking a landing force of approximately 700 Marines. San Antonio is 684 feet in length, has an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet and displaces approximately 24,900 tons. Four turbo-charged diesels power the ship to sustained speeds of 22 knots.

     San Antonio is the lead ship in the Navy’s new 12-ship LPD 17 Class and will serve as the functional replacement of four amphibious ship classes -- LPD 4, LSD 36, LST 1179 and LKA 113 -- that have reached or are nearing the end of their service lives.

     The ship will provide greatly improved warfighting capabilities including an advanced command and control suite, increased lift capacity with substantial increases in vehicle and cargo carrying capability and advanced ship survivability features. The ship supports the Marine Corps "mobility triad," the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle), the "Triple A-V" (AAAV - Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle) and the MV-22 (Osprey tiltrotor aircraft), making this class a critical element of tomorrow’s amphibious ready groups and expeditionary strike groups.

     The new design also features the latest in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities with dedicated intelligence, mission planning, and command and control spaces. San Antonio’s shipboard wide area network is a fiber optic shipwide large area computer network, which will support numerous operations from combat systems to ship systems to command and control nodes to an integrated training system.

     This expeditionary warship class will be the most survivable amphibious vessel ever put to sea. The ship's automated combat system includes a highly capable sensor suite and weapons that provide a robust self-defense capability. San Antonio's design optimizes radar cross-section signature by streamlining topside design and incorporating reduced radar cross section signature technologies. San Antonio also features the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor system (AEM/S) that replaces conventional masts, protecting radar and communications antennas from weather and reducing the ship’s vulnerability to detection by hostile radar. The AEM/S, the defining feature of the ship’s distinctive profile, is the largest composite material structure ever installed on a U.S. Navy steel ship.

     Furthermore, San Antonio incorporates the latest quality of life standards for the embarked Marines and sailors, including the sit-up berth, ship services mall, a fitness center and learning resource center/electronic classroom. The ship has the flexibility to accommodate a mixed gender crew and embarked troops. Reduced operational costs and an improved capability to periodically insert advanced technology over its planned 40-year service life were also essential design objectives for LPD 17. Accordingly, the design team incorporated hundreds of suggestions and recommendations from more than 1,000 sailors and Marines in a "Design for Ownership" process to ensure that these ships will meet their needs throughout the first half of the 21st century.

Additional information about this class of ship is available on line at http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-lpd.html.