The Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding Division has launched the U.S. Navy’s 12th San Antonio class amphibious transport dock (LPD) ship, the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28), at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on March 28.
On March 7, the ship was transferred from the land level facility to the dry dock in preparation of floating off. During the launch, the dry dock was slowly flooded until the ship floated off the blocks.
“I am thrilled to get Fort Lauderdale in the water, so we can begin final outfitting and eventually take the ship out to sea for trials,” said Capt. Scot Searles, LPD 17 class program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. “The San Antonio class has proven essential to expeditionary warfighters, and we are eager to deliver another ship to the fleet.”
LPD-28 is named in honor of the Florida city and will be the first Navy vessel to bear the name. The keel for the future USS Fort Lauderdale was laid on Oct. 13, 2017.
Fort Lauderdale will feature design improvements developed in connection with the Navy’s development of a next-generation landing dock ship, the LPD 17 Flight II (previously known as LX(R)). This will make Fort Lauderdale a “transitional ship” between the current LPD 17 San Antonio-class design and future LPD 17 Flight II vessels. The LPD 17 Flight II vessels are intended to replace current Whidbey Island-class and Harpers Ferry-class landing dock ships (LSD).
Displacing more than 25,000 tons at full load, Fort Lauderdale will be equipped with Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers to protect it from air threats, Radar Cross-Section (RCS) reduction techniques to make the ship more difficult to locate and target, along with enhanced survivability features that will include improved nuclear blast and fragmentation protection and a shock-hardened structure.
The ship will also employ extensive communications, command, control and intelligence systems to support current and projected expeditionary warfare missions.
According to the Navy, the USS Fort Lauderdale will have the capacity to deliver a fully equipped battalion of more than 700 Marines, along with gear and supplies, by embarked Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing craft and Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft, including the MV-22 Osprey.
The ship will support amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions and can serve as a secondary aviation platform for amphibious ready groups.
Ingalls Shipbuilding is also in production on the future USS Richard M. McCool (LPD 29) and Harrisburg (LPD 30). LPD 28 and 29 will serve as transition ships to LPD 30, the first LPD 17 Flight II ship.