The penultimate San Antonio-class amphibious warship (LPD-17) – Portland (LPD-27 – was launched from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard on Saturday.
The 25,000-ton amphib is the 11th San Antonio for the Navy and was expected to be the final ship of the class before Congress added funds for a 12th ship. The unnamed LPD-28 is expected to be a bridge to the Navy’s LX(R) program — set to replace the service’s Whidbey Island and Harpers Ferry-class of landing ship docks.
“Every milestone in the construction of a ship is significant, but seeing the ship float out of drydock is visually one of my favorites,” said Capt. Darren Plath, LPD 17 Class Program Manager, Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships in a Navy statement.
“I’m looking forward to sea trials, delivery and other exciting milestones.”
Portland is about 70 percent complete and expected to commission next year.
In December, HII was awarded a $200 million contract to start early work on LPD-28 – estimated to cost about $2.02 billion in connection for a Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer to be built at General Dynamics Bath Iron as part of a years-old memorandum of understanding between HII and BIW. The Navy and the yards are working out the particulars on the swap agreement, according to a story in Defense News.
The construction contract for LPD-28 is expected by the end of 2016.
Now HII will gear up for the work to build the first LX(R), which will be based on the San Antonio hull form. The Navy plans to award the first construction contract in 2020 and start buying the new ships on a one-a-year rate in 2022.
Industry and the Marines have called for accelerating the acquisition by two years and an award of the construction the contract in 2018.
While HII is the favorite to build the LX(R) class, it is by no means a forgone conclusion and the Navy intends to compete the contract.