Home » Budget Industry » Report to Congress on Navy LPD-17 Flight II (LX[R]) Amphibious Ship Program


Report to Congress on Navy LPD-17 Flight II (LX[R]) Amphibious Ship Program

The following is a July 3, 2018, Congressional Research Service report, Navy LPD-17 Flight II (LX[R]) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report:

The LPD-17 Flight II program, previously known as the LX(R) program, is a program to build 13 new amphibious ships for the Navy. The Navy had planned to procure the first LPD-17 Flight II ship in FY2020. Congress, as part of its action on the Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget, accelerated the procurement of the first LPD17 Flight II ship to FY2018.

Within a Navy shipbuilding program, the term flight refers to a group of ships built to a particular design version. The LPD-17 Flight II ships are to constitute the second version of the Navy’s San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship design. Compared to the original (i.e., Flight I) LPD-17 design, the Flight II design is somewhat less expensive and in some ways less capable. In many other respects, the LPD-17 Flight II design is similar in appearance and capabilities to the LPD-17 Flight I design. The Flight II design was developed to meet Navy and Marine Corps operational requirements while staying within a unit procurement cost target established by the Navy.

A total of 13 LPD-17 Flight I ships (LPDs 17 through 29) were procured between FY1996 and FY2017. The final two Flight I ships (LPDs 28 and 29) incorporate some design changes that make them transitional ships between the Flight I design and the Flight II design.

The LPD-17 Flight II ship procured in FY2018 will be designated LPD-30, and subsequent ships will be designated LPD-31, LPD-32, and so on. Whether the LPD-17 Flight II ships constitute their own shipbuilding program or an extension of the original LPD-17 shipbuilding program might be a matter of perspective. As a matter of convenience, this CRS report refers to the Flight II shipbuilding effort as a program. Years from now, LPD-17 Flight I and Flight II ships might be referred to collectively as either the LPD-17 class, the LPD-17/30 class, or the LPD-17 and LPD-30 classes.

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS, is the builder of LPD-17 Flight I ships. On April 6, 2018, the Navy announced that it intends to issue a solicitation on a sole-source basis to HII/Ingalls for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of LPD-30.

The Navy’s FY2019 budget submission, which was submitted before Congress finalized its action on the Navy’s FY2018 budget, does not request procurement of an LPD-17 Flight II ship in FY2019, and does not request any procurement or advance procurement (AP) funding for the LPD-17 Flight II program in FY2019. It programs the procurement of an LPD-17 Flight II ship in FY2020. Under the Navy’s original plan, the ship programmed for procurement in FY2020 was to be the first Flight II ship. With the first Flight II ship having been procured in FY2018, the Flight II ship scheduled for procurement in FY2020 would be the second Flight II ship.

Issues for Congress for FY2019 for the LPD-17 Flight II program include the following:

  • whether to accelerate the procurement of the second LPD-17 Flight II ship (i.e., LPD-31) from FY2020 to FY2019; and
  • the Navy’s intent to issue a solicitation for LPD-30 on a sole-source basis, and the Navy’s plans for controlling costs and achieving good production quality and schedule adherence in the LPD-17 Flight II program in a sole-source contracting environment.

  • RunningBear

    Flight II is rumored to evolve into LSD-xxx with the well deck extended near the bow and reduced troop capacity. Capacity would be 4 LCACs, H-53, MV-22, (luxurious flight deck). Hopefully it would evolve into LHD/A-8/6 type propulsion with motor/ generators for directed energy weapons.
    🙂

    • Aj jordan

      Wait your kidding! So they just might put in a large well deck for 4-5 lcac in the lpd 17? If so that’s awesome! I’ve been raging over their decision to prioritize aviation over landing craft…

  • Ed L

    I still like the Hll version of the LPS-17 BMD ship incorporates an Aegis-type phased array radar atop the superstructure. The aft deck, devoid of much of the topside structure of the LPD 17, is ringed by 18 16-cell vertical launch system launchers, for a total of 288 missile cells. Like the existing Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS launchers in the fleet. But the navy will never buy a vessel like that.

  • DaSaint

    Lots of capacity and capability in these ships, but their major drawback beyond Amphibious and/or auxiliary roles such as Tenders or Command Ships is their lack of Battle Group speed. No way around that with this hull-form.

    • johnbull

      I’ve seen, as many have, that this hull has been considered as the basis for the next cruiser. The only drawback that I see is speed. How do you coaxe another six or eight knots out of that hull form?

      • RunningBear

        OMG!, the LCS comes to the rescue with a proposed water-jets for the LPD-17 Block II !!!!
        🙂

      • Al L.

        Its called horsepower. The ship has 6675 tons of dead weight to dedicate to whatever is needed: engines, fuel, radars, missiles etc.

        A CG-47 has 2590 tons. So you could put the entire combat systems load of a CG-47 on it and still have around 5000 tons for engines and fuel

        But could be a big drag on logistics .

        • old guy

          It is DISPLACEMENT we speaik of, not DEADWEIGHT!

        • Rocco

          Wrong. Ever CHK out the hull of a CG compared to the LX/? A cruiser can knife through the ocean compared to a similar weight ship with the same powerplant to make the same speed!! Ain’t happening.

          • Al L.

            A DDG-51 doesn’t have a cruiser hull form either never the less it can push its 9000 tons to 30 knots by using its 105000 shp and run with a CVN which is what a cruiser would need to do.
            An LPD-17 at 25000 tons achieves 22 knots with just 41600 shp

            Evidence is its possible to push an LPD-17 hull to 28 knots.

            Whether its practical, cost effective or necessary is another question.

          • Secundius

            Flight III Arleigh Burke’s had their Beams widened from 66-feet to 72-feet…

          • Rocco

            I wasn’t talking about DDG’s ! I know what speed they are capable of making. When you say evidence shows!! What evidence? They haven’t even been built yet! & With what has happened with the early LPD’s I don’t think the Navy is gonna push the limits of the engines!

    • Duane

      Define “battle group speed”.

      This ship is spec’d at “20+ knots”, whereas the America class aviation amphib does only slightly better at “22+ knots”. An aviation amphib has a good reason to go a bit faster, to put more wind down the deck for rolling takeoffs by F-35Bs. No such need by the LPDs.

      • DaSaint

        Agreed. Therefore the LPD hullform has limitations if considered for more combatant-type roles, such as Cruiser.

        It can’t keep up with the CBG with it’s current hullform hydrodynamics and available power.

        • Secundius

          Unfortunately next Cruiser is going to be a Destroyer! ( https : // www. defensenews .com/digital-show-dailies/surface-navy-association/2018/01/09/surface-warfare-director-cruiser-replacement-wont-be-a-cruiser/ ) …

          • DaSaint

            Yes. I remember that statement. That said, with the decrease in manning, it opens up areas in a hull that could be used as a command center for flag staff. I think this has already been demonstrated in even frigate designs such as the Type26 and FREMM.

            We’ll see if they stretch or modify a Burke or Zumwalt, which makes more sense.

      • Rocco

        F-35B doesn’t need to be down wind!!!

        • Duane

          A headwind is not required, but anyone who actually is a qualied fixed wing pilot – like me, for instance – knows that the greater the headwind component on takeoff, the better the takeoff performance. Particularly when the aircraft is taking off at close to max takeoff load. The greater the headwind, the greater the takeoff margin of safety
          Smart pilots ALWAYS seek to maximize their margins of flight safety.

          Even big deck CVNs with cats and traps still turn into the wind and cruise at relatively high speeds for flight ops.

          • Rocco

            I think I would know this as I chewed the decks of 3 Carriers…….So now your a pilot 🤥

  • old guy

    Wrong requirement, wrong design, wrong mission, wrong century. What’s needed is a 10 advanced LCAC carrier/servicer, NO wasteful well deck, anti-swarm boat (hydrofoil or planing) mother ship. Who is doing our fleet mission planning, General Eisenhower?

    • Duane

      Thank you General Grant.

      The Marines set the operational requirements. The Navy does the design.

      • old guy

        I suggest that you speak to Gens. Krulak and Jones about that,

      • Rocco

        Who told you this???

        • Duane

          The Marines are the end user customers, and their operational requirements determine what the Navy designs. But for the Marines’ amphib warfare requirements, the LPD would not exist.

          • Rocco

            I ment who??? As in what individual!! Source?. Not for your opinion!.

          • Papasan Pauly

            It’s all standard protocol intermixed with inner/inter service budget rivalries. Navy design and requirement groups routinely meet with our MCCDC (Marine Corps Combat Development Command) and they go over it. Both services drive it because it comes down to scheduled ship maintenance, how our gear tears their stuff up, things like that. A prime example is our AV-8’s and F-35’s jet exhaust literally burns off flight deck coatings. Naturally Navy doesn’t like it so they figure out ways to keep from having to continually make repairs.

            So they keep running notes and when the time comes to design new ships they go over everything they’ve learned together. Navy asks us what we have coming up, we ask them what their limitations are and then Navy architects design the sucker. It’s been like this for decades.

          • Papasan Pauly

            Yes and no.

            Yes – LPD concept was driven by Marine needs to put more landing troops with a well deck afloat because the new helicopter carrying LPH’s only had flight decks. Thus LPD’s are troop carrying souped up LSD’s when their primary mission was carrying cargo and support equipment.

            No – Navy got us with LHA-6’s which they built without well decks. They tried to cover that major discrepancy up by saying our Marine aircraft were increasingly large and we needed the increased volume. What really happened is the Navy finally got their two small sea control carriers we use as amphibious ships. This way they have two backups with Marines on board to cover sea based patrols when their big boy carriers aren’t available.

    • Al L.

      Perhaps, old guy, you could slow down and make a thoughtful, sensible post in properly constructed American English.

      • old guy

        MY ENGLISH IS IMPECCABLE. YOUR JUDGMENT IS QUESTIONABLE. In my time at NAVSEA. I designed (or contributed to designs by my super crew) to:
        1. SEAMOD
        2, 100 knot, 3K ton SES.
        3. 70 knot PHM follow-on
        4, DDX
        5. DDM
        6. Jeff A & B AALC (now LCAC)
        7. JIM and JOE boats (larger and smaller hovercraft)
        8 TAC(S)
        9. and lots more. What are your credentials, beside perjorative statements?

        • Rocco

          Lol kudos!!

        • Duane

          So you designed ships. I don’t see anywhere in your creds that you are more qualified to set Marines tactical requirements better than, say, oh I don’t know … the US Marines?

          When was it that the USMC Commandant tasked you to redesign the Marines MEU and ARG capablities?

          SMH

          • Rocco

            No more than you to post comments on here!! Old guy I believe!

        • Papasan Pauly

          What are “JIM” and “JOE” boats? Back in the late seventies or maybe early eighties there were some pretty exciting ideas floating around for a hovercraft amtrack and LCVP. The Brits built and used their air cushion LCVP in the Falklands where they had great success with it. Many of the systems you listed are from that era so I’m asking if you know anything about those two concepts back then.

          That was a golden age for military systems where some came into being while others didn’t. We sure could have used the 8″ Major Caliber Light Weight Gun. Made every destroyer a great naval gunfire platform firing a project that could actually damage something instead of just putting dents in it.

    • Aj jordan

      Couldn’t agree more…..I made a model of an lsd based on the lpd 17 hull as a project…… I found room to stuff in 5 LCAC , in a massive designed well deck , with a caspasious ramp and turn table area…… It’s a shame they keep peddling this aviation centric twattle…..

      • Papasan Pauly

        LPD’s and LSD’s aren’t “aviation centric” nor were they ever intended to be. The idea is they’re aviation capable so the MEU/ARG can spread their aircraft around because MV-22B’s are simply big airframes. It also gives the MEU Commander the capability of spinning off part of his force to handle whatever mission they’re assigned while retaining the bulk of his force on their routine sea patrol. Given their loading LPD’s are perfect for that because they can pretty much handle anything from limited amounts of light armor to insurgents to disaster and humanitarian reliefs.

        For what it’s worth you’ve got the bulk of the Marine Corps hoping you’re right about LPD-17’s II’s being able to handle an LSD’s role without big tradeoffs. Frankly we’re not seeing it but please do prove us wrong because the stakes are way too high to get caught up in false egos. Make it work Brother. We’re with you big time on this.

    • Papasan Pauly

      Eisenhower was Army. It was LTGEN Thomas Holcomb, CMC during the first half of the Pacific War. The Corps needed a way to launch low silhouette amphibian tractors that could evade incoming hostile fire during amphibious assaults so they came up with LSD well decks to carry them. Worked very well for us in the overall scheme of things.

      As for wrong hull you totally nailed it big time because LPD’s lack LSD’s much longer well deck and cargo carrying capacities. This is why there’s so much objection in the Corps to replacing LSD-41/49’s with LPD-17’s of any type. What most are looking for is a compromise between the Whidbey Islands and Harper’s Ferry hulls so we can retain the advantages both bring to the fight.

      As for LCACs they’re a great connector when no one is shooting at you. The problem many see is they’re just so daggon big they’re really easy to target on the run in during an opposed amphibious assault. We have to remember few if any of us believed we’d ever be facing the prospects of island warfare again. Then China began building and fortifying them in South China Sea so we’ve once again come full circle.

      Now we find ourselves with a surface connector mindset that won’t last the first day if we go head to head with near peer adversaries in that high threat environment. Thus most experienced Marines are looking at our bloody past so we don’t make the same mistakes again which means we want well decks carrying low silhouette amtracks to get our assault echelon ashore.

      Believe no one ever wants to face those nightmarish blood baths again but it’s not our call. We just have to be ready if it comes. It is what it is.

  • old guy

    I’ gonna get you on a slow boat to China……….

  • Papasan Pauly

    Big question is will it have a well deck that’s comparable to LSD-41’s without making major trade offs?