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LPD John Murtha Completes Acceptance Trials As Navy, Congress Mull Program’s Future

John Murtha (LPD-26) during acceptance trials. HII Photo

John Murtha (LPD-26) during acceptance trials. HII Photo

The tenth San Antonio-class amphibious warship (LPD-17) successfully completed its acceptance trials last week, while on Tuesday the House Armed Services Committee proposed legislative language that could add a 13th LPD to the service.

John P. Murtha (LPD-26) completed six days of Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The trials – in addition to the normal tests of the ships propulsion and combat systems – included tests of an upgraded radar and changes to the ships digital network, shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries LPD program manager Kari Wilkinson told USNI News on Tuesday.

“We went through the schedule of events. We demonstrated what we needed to demonstrate and got back pier-side on schedule,” she said.
“We don’t like surprises.”

The changes included an a change to the ship’s 3D air search AN/SPS-48 radar and technology upgrades and obsolesce tweaks to the Ship Wide Area Network that uses miles of fiber optic cables to connect the Murtha’s systems.

In a Tuesday statement, the service praised Murtha’s performance.

“It’s been two and half years since Ingalls last conducted LPD acceptance trials,” Supervisor of Shipbuilding Capt. Joe Tuite said in the statement.
“The team did an excellent job preparing the ship for a successful trials period. The ship was cleared for sea on the morning of the second day, the earliest of any of the previous nine LPDs.”

Also on Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee introduced its proposed Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in which the committee funded the start of construction for an amphib, which could either be the 13th San Antonio ship or could be used to build the first LX(R) ship that replaces the current Harpers Ferry- and Whidbey Island-class (LSD-41/49) amphibious warships.

A committee staffer told reporters that HASC members were pleased with the performance of Ingalls shipyard and were interested in keeping the production line at the Mississippi yard hot as the Navy transitions to the LX(R) platform.

In late 2014, the Navy elected to use the LPD-17 hull as the basis of its LX(R) design, and Congress responded by including funding for a 12th San Antonio – LPD-28 — to keep Ingalls viable until the LX(R) program was ready to begin construction activity.

“We’re very interested in accelerating 28,” Wilkinson said.
“And if 29 or the LX(R) program come along … we’re very interested in keeping that production line going because we’re seeing the benefits. We’re in a very good place on that program.”