City of San Antonio, Texas
USS San Antonio, currently under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems' shipyard in Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Ms., is the first amphibious transport dock of the twelve-ship San Antonio class.
San Antonio will be used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies by embarked air cushion or conventional landing craft or Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical take off and landing aircraft.
She will support amphibious assault, special ops, or expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st Century.
San Antonio was christened July 19, 2003, by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. The ship will then be delivered to the Navy and commissioned as USS San Antonio in 2006.
Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton named the lead ship of the LPD 17 class San Antonio in 1996. The ship is named in honor of the City of San Antonio, Texas.
“USS San Antonio will be the most high-tech, advanced amphibious ship ever built. It is an honor for me to name such an important new combat ship after San Antonio, site of the battle of the Alamo. It is also important that we keep alive the tradition of naming ships after American cities,” said the Secretary.
She is the first U.S. ship commissioned San Antonio.
San Antonio incorporates advanced performance and warfighting technologies that will enhance the fleet’s operational flexibility and ability to support emerging concepts such as Sea Power 21, Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS) and Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM). Among the advanced features that distinguish San Antonio are composite-material Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor systems; state-of-the-art C4ISR and self-defense systems; a Shipboard Wide Area Network (SWAN) “information superhighway;” and improved habitability for embarked Sailors and Marines. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Avondale, LA and Pascagoula, MS constructed LPD 17.
San Antonio is designed for 21st century expeditionary forces. Its improved aviation facilities include a hangar to accommodate a flexible mix of helicopters and the Marine Corps’ new tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft, and an enlarged flight deck capable of supporting all Marine Corps rotary-wing operations. San Antonio’s well deck is sized for the launch and recovery of two Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC)– each capable of high-speed transportation of 60 tons of cargo and vehicles (e.g. one M1A1 tank) at 40 knots– or one conventional landing craft, the Landing Craft Utility (LCU).
With two fully loaded LCACs in San Antonio’s well deck, the ship can also carry 14 or more of the Marine Corps’ new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (EFV) and transport combat ready Marines to their land objectives and provide combat support with their 30mm guns. The ability of San Antonio to carry both LCACs and EFVs simultaneously will help Sea Warriors execute expeditionary missions throughout the first half of the 21st Century.
The year of 2007 has taken SAN ANTONIO through some remarkable accomplishments and has seen her progress through a shipyard asset to a national asset. Having spent only 58 days underway, SAN ANTONIO put the time pier side to good use. Most notably, SAN ANTONIO successfully passed the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) material inspection and is now fully capable and ready for any tasking.
In March, the ship travelled south to its first foreign port visit in Nassau, Bahamas. The crew was given a few days of liberty and relaxation in between running the underwater acoustic silencing range.
When they returned from the Bahamas, one week stood between them and INSURV Final Contract Trials that began on 26 MAR. Despite the crew's efforts and hard work, the ship could not get underway after a major failure to steering control circuitry.
On 2 APR, SAN ANTONIO entered the British Aerospace Engineering dry dock in Portsmouth. Armed with the INSURV generated list of material discrepancies, the ship began a Post-Shakedown Availability. Ship's crew and shipyard workers alike began tackling the lengthy list of trial cards. Major jobs included compartment completion, new non-skid on the ship's forecastle, boat valley, and flight deck, and several upgrades to the ship's area network.
On 1 JUN, SAN ANTONIO became a member of Amphibious Squardron Four instead of Amphibious Squadron Six in order to accommodate necessary deployment schedules between SAN ANTONIO and NASHVILLE.
As the first of the class, the ship went through an Inclining Experiment on 30 JUN that required the ship to purposefully list to test mathematical calculations of pitch, roll, center of gravity, and center of buoyancy.
The tests went well and with the Post-Shakedown Availability coming to a close, the crew held a fast cruise for two days before getting underway on 12 JUL for sea trials. During the 5 days underway, ship's force accomplished quite a handful of activities to include SSDS testing, ULM-4 range, SESEF range, TACAN testing, SWAN testing, and small boat operations.
The prospective Commanding Officer, CDR Kurt A. Kastner, arrived onboard 15 JUL, and officially relieved CDR Brad Lee as SAN ANTONIO on 20JUL in a ceremony held on the ship's new flight deck.
On 23 JUL, the ship entered a CMAV that would extend nearly a month through 20 AUG. Air Department obtained their aviation certification during this time which marked SAN ANTONIO's first certification in a line of many required for a 2008 deployment.
On 20 AUG, the ship got underway for a few short days of Deck Landing Qualifications (DLQs). The crew managed to squeeze in an Underway Replenishment (UNREP) and also another range run on the SESEF buoy for increment E testing.
The following week, beginning on 28 AUG, SAN ANTONIO was underway again for the VACAPES to provide host services for Second Fleet Special Operations Command (SOCOM) testing missions.
Next stop on the list for the ship was the deperming crib on 4 SEP. Initial testing was done and readings were taken so that on 5 SEP the ship was able to switch from a Southern heading to a Northern heading. The ship's crew worked exceptionally hard to wrap the entire ship in magnetic cables that would eventually send impulses of current through the outside of the ship in an effort to reduce our magnetic signature. The readings taken at the crib were very promising, but the real test came on 11 SEP during the ship's day of magnetic silencing range (degaussing) runs in the Norfolk harbor channel. Indeed, the ship's magnetic signature is remarkably low for a warship of it's weight and size.
On 17 SEP, SAN ANTONIO was called upon to provide more services for SOCOM testing missions and conducted an UNREP as well. On 21 SEP, SAN ANTONIO returned to port and Commander Amphibious Squadron Four embarked.
Several things happened on 24 SEP. The ship began another CMAV to concentrate mainly on SWAN troubles, underwater hull cleaning started, a week of Shipboard Training Team trainers from Afloat Training Group kicked off, and the Supply Department began their certification inspection.
The 1st and 2nd of OCT gained another certification for SAN ANTONIO, this time in radar navigation. At the end of October, the ship got underway to test steering, run yet another ULM-4 range, and conduct 30mm testing.
Force Protection Initial Assessment started on the first day of November, but SAN ANTONIO did not perform as well as anticipated. For ULTRA-E though, following only 4 days later, the engineers thoroughly impressed the inspectors with their knowledge and skill.
SAN ANTONIO got underway on 13 NOV for a long awaited missile firing exercise. The ship steamed North just off of Wallops Island, VA and conducted live firing exercises of the Rolling Airframe Missile System.
After returning and having a preparation week in port, SAN ANTONIO came to the first day of INSURV. The crew had certainly prepared for this day since the last INSURV in March and they were ready. Their enthusiasm, knowledge, and hard work shined during the week and SAN ANTONIO came away from the inspection with high scores all around. More importantly, the crew had convinced everyone that they were ready to take this ship to sea for prolonged amounts of time. Effectively, the crew turned the ship into a national asset ready for and capable of any tasking assigned.
7 DEC was a monumental day for SAN ANTONIO when VADM Chanik, Commander, Second Fleet, toured the ship and joined dozens of waterfront Commanding Officers for "Commander Naval Surface Force Leadership Forum" being hosted aboard by Rear Admiral Curtis.
After a few weeks in port and a delightful children's Christmas party on 8 DEC, the ship was back at sea on 10-11 DEC for DLQs. Although the DLQs were ultimately cancelled, the ship was able to conduct an UNREP one last time before the end of 2007. Upon returning to port, the ship entered another CMAV and the week of 10 DEC concluded with the command Christmas party on the evening of the 13th and then the ship's holiday stand down beginning on 14 DEC.
As the first of the most technologically advanced amphibious warships in the world, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) set milestones from the beginning of 2006. Spending 215 days at sea, the crew of USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) was dedicated to making it a successful year.
During her transit South to Texas for commissioning, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) landed her first Marine Corps Helicopter on 05 January (CH-46D). That same helicopter also performed the ship's first medical evacuation.
The 14th of January is a day etched in all of the plankowners' memories. As Texas’ Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson christened the ship as the ship’s sponsor, the crewmembers understood it was their job to breath life into USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17).
On 24 January, Commander Brad Lee relieved Commander Jonathon Padfield as Commanding Officer of USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17).
True to that sentiment, the ship was underway just days after she was commissioned to begin her transit back to her homeport of Norfolk, VA. Once there, she entered the British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) shipyard.
On 4-12 April, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) conducted sea trials in the Virginia Capes Operating Area (VACAPES OPAREA). This underway included many Shipboard Training Team (SBTT) drills and also involved an anchorage. On 11 April, the first Navy helo landed (MH-60S) followed by the first tilt-rotor aircraft landing (MV-22) on 12 April.
17 April marked the beginning of a four week underway period. The first two weeks were spent in the VACAPES OPAREA conducting various exercises. The Officers of the Deck (OODs) were kept busy with several days of non-stop flight operations to certify the flight deck. 24 April – 5 May was Hurricane Exercise 2006, an exercise to sharpen the crew’s skills at tracking and evading tropical storms after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. On 29 April, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) departed the VACAPES and began her transit to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Enroute, the crew trained in Emission Control drills, NIXIE streaming, and held several familiarization fire gun shoots. Before mooring on 1 May, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) conducted amphibious operations off the coast with Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) on 30 April.
Sailors were cordially welcomed by the townspeople of Ft. Lauderdale and were even invited, along with the other guest ships, to a National Salute to Heroes Concert at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The ship’s wardroom and crew hosted a party on the flight deck for local politicians and their families. Fleet Week USA hosted several MWR sporting events that gave the sailors a chance to enjoy both camraderie and the Florida sun. The ship's Chaplain set up community relations projects as well, including two Habitat for Humanity trips.
On 7 May, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) departed Ft. Lauderdale, spent the night at sea, and pulled into Mayport, FL on 8 May to refuel and embark midshipmen. Underway again on 9 May, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) arrived in Norfolk on 12 May. Two weeks inport allowed time for the propellers to be cleaned and on 23 May USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) was underway, headed for Fleet Week New York. After mooring in Staten Island on 24 May, the sailors found themselves quite welcomed wherever they went. Being in one of America’s largest cities for Fleet Week kept the ship busy with tours and visitors galore. Several sailors also had the proud opportunity to re-enlist at Ground Zero with Admiral Fallon.
30 May came and USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) departed Staten Island for the VACAPES OPAREA until 9 June to conduct Ship's Self Defense System (SSDS) testing that included a drone tracking exercise and a NIXIE stream.
The week of 11-16 June was filled with midshipmen on their Career Officer Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) summer cruise. Given a chance to spend a week aboard the Navy’s newest amphibious warship was something the midshipmen really enjoyed. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, they eagerly spoke with crewmembers to learn the different rates and their jobs onboard. 13-16 June was an underway period to show the midshipmen the advanced capabilities of USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17). During the three days underway, midshipmen were exposed to an Underway Replenishment (UNREP), Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) flights, an anchorage, and several pre-action calibration weapon firings (PACFIRE).
19 June - 5 July was a scheduled three week inport Continued Maintenance Availability (CMAV) for USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) to upgrade systems. It also gave the crew time to attend schools and training without the possibility of being underway.
After the CMAV was complete, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) went to sea from 6-21 July to test out the new products and upgraded systems. Focusing primarily on amphibious operations, this underway period included an LCAC interface test and an amphibious lift demonstration as well.
On 23 July, more midshipmen arrived for their summer cruises and came just in time to see the Shipboard Training Team (SBTT) environment kick into full gear in preparation for USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) upcoming Unit Level Training Assessment-Composite (ULTRA-C) at the end of August. They also got underway from 7-23 August and witnessed USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) conduct a Detect-to-Engage Sequence, a Surface Gunnery Exercise, a LINK Exercise, a Missile Exercise, and an Air Gunnery Exercise.
28 August, the beginning of ULTRA-C, was a day the crew was ready for. Successfully accomplishing all required inport checks allowed USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) to get underway as scheduled on 30 August. The months of training and hard work paid off when the crew moored at Naval Station Norfolk on 1 September with a passing grade.
On 8 September, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) was underway to the VACAPES OPAREA to conduct familiarization firings (FAMFIRE) of the weapons onboard for two days. She headed North on 10 September and moored in New York in the morning of 11 September for a 9/11 commemoration. In a city that remembers clearly the terrorist attacks of 2001, it was a memorable occasion for them to see the newest amphibious warship designed to help thwart terrorism from the sea. Similar to her time spent in New York for its Fleet Week, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) opened its hatches to multiple distinguished visitor tours, including one for the NY Yankees and Giants. Once again, sailors took advantage of the fact the ship was in New York to re-enlist at Ground Zero.
Although sailors enjoyed their liberty time in New York, it was back to business as soon as USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) got underway on 15 September. Next on the list of things to do was ULTRA-E (engineering), beginning on 18 September. Through hundreds of drills and evolutions, the engineers took USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) through the inspection successfully and kept her on schedule in the training cycle. The engineers were happy when USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) was moored in Norfolk on 20 September.
Inport from 22 September – 9 October, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) organized MWR bowling and golfing tournaments. Work conducted on the ship during this timeframe included the flight deck non-skid overhaul and an underwater hull cleaning.
From 17-19 October, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) was showcased in a television documentary being made for Future Weapons. Although not scheduled to air until the Spring of 2007, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) welcomed the chance to show off the ship.
The engineers were ready and waiting for 16 October when the US Navy diesel engine inspectors embarked for a two-week diesel engine inspection. Completing all the inport checks successfully and on time, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) spent the week of 23 October underway to finish the diesel engine inspection with a high average grade.
On 25 October, the ship conducted its first vertical replenishment. This inherently dangerous operation was thoroughly successful and helped ready her for a special warfare exercise. USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD-17) participated in a multi-unit Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise designed to provide training for SEAL and aviation units in preparation for deployment from 30 October to 3 November. This first-in-class evolution incorporated numerous squadrons as well as SH-60F, HH-60H, and MH-60S helicopters to support SEAL Team TEN in day, night, and NVD operations.
USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) stationed the outbound Sea and Anchor detail on 13 November to conduct SSDS testing in the VACAPES OPAREA. The Engineering Training Team (ETT) used the underway time to run many drills / evolutions in preparation for their planned Engineering Operational Certification (EOC). Unfortunately, EOC was postponed to the Spring of 2007, so the ship returned to port on 21 November.
27 November - 4 December added to USS SAN ANTONIO’s (LPD 17) underway time for 2006. During this underway, she conducted a towing exercise, MV-22 Osprey testing, and small boat attack defense training. Having the electronic equipment evaluated at the Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility was a major evolution during this week as well.
Off the coast of North Carolina in November, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) rescued four fishermen from their sinking boat. Hearing the distress call from Miss Melissa, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) made best speed to her position and lowered a RHIB in the water in rough seas to rescue the fishermen and safely return them to USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17). Given a warm meal and thorough examination by the medical officer, the sailors were very grateful to the crew who went out of their way to help fellow mariners.
11-14 December was the final 2006 underway for USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17), but certainly an important one for the ship. Her Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) was the culmination of the training cycle and involved numerous shipboard training teams and drills. As done throughout 2006, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) successfully passed FEP and turned their attention to the next task at hand.
After 215 days at sea serving her country, USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) and crew earned a well deserved holiday standdown. The sailors definitely appreciated the chance to take leave and spend the holidays with their families. However, there was still work to be done on the ship. USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) entered a CMAV from 18 December - 5 January, one week of which included an underwater hull cleaning.
The ship’s crew worked exceptionally hard in 2006 and impressed higher chain of command personnel about the capabilities of the LPD-17 class of amphibious ships. Taking her from the shipyards in 2005 to pre-deployment exercises in 2007, 2006 was a critical year that established the momentum necessary to carry USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) to an incredibly successful future.
The crossed Navy and Marine Corps swords represent cooperation and
teamwork of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps.