Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has started the fabrication of the 13th San Antonio class (LPD 17) amphibious transport dock ship, the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) on July 30, 2018 at their shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The start of fabrication signifies that the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.
“We are excited to commence fabrication on the 13th and final ship of the LPD 17 Flight I class,” said Capt. Brian Metcalf, LPD 17 class program manager for Program Executive OfficeShips. “We continue to benefit from the maturity of this program, and look forward to achieving future production milestones as we work to deliver this versatile and capable warship to the Fleet.”
LPD 29 is named in honor of Navy veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Richard M. McCool, Jr., and will be the first vessel to bear the name. McCool served in defense of our nation for 30 years, spanning three wars. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 for heroism, after his ship was attacked by kamikaze aircraft and he led efforts to save the ship and rescue injured sailors.
The principal mission of LPD 17 San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ships is to transport and deploy the necessary combat and support elements of Marine Expeditionary Units and Brigades. The ship will carry approximately 720 troops, have the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion (LCAC) or amphibious assault vehicles (AAV), and accommodate virtually every size of Marine Corps helicopter and its tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft. These ships will support amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.
The Navy awarded the detail design and construction contract for LPD 29 to HII on Feb. 16, 2018. 11 San Antonio class ships have been delivered, the most recent being USS Portland (LPD 27), which was commissioned April 21, 2018.
The future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) and LPD 29 will serve as transition ships to LPD 30, the first ship of the LPD 17 Flight II class, which was developed for U.S. Navy’s LX(R)-class amphibious warfare ship program. LPD Flight II class ships will be the replacement for the Navy’s aging LSD 41 Whidbey Island-class and LSD 49 Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ships.
The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first Flight II ship in 2020. It will award the contract for the second in 2022, followed by one each year after that, for a total of a 13-ship class.