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The Landing Platform Dock 17, San Antonio Class, is the latest class of amphibious force ship for the United States Navy. The mission of the San Antonio Class is to transport the US Marine Corps "mobility triad" – that is, Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAAVs), air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC) and the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft – to trouble spots around the world.
Construction of the first ship of 12, the San Antonio (LPD 17), began in June 2000. It was launched in July 2003 and will commission in mid-2005. The second ship, New Orleans (LPD 18), was launched in November 2004 and will be delivered in 2005. The third, Mesa Verde (LPD 19), was launched in January 2005 and will commission in 2006. The keel for the fourth, USS Green Bay (LPD 20), was laid in August 2003. Other contracted vessels are the USS New York (LPD 21), scheduled for delivery in 2007, San Diego (LPD 22) and Anchorage (LPD 23). Construction of USS New York will include 24t of steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, as a memorial to those who lost their lives in New York on 11 September 2001. The keel for the vessel was laid in September 2004.
The ship is constructed from steel and designed to minimise radar cross-section. Enhanced survivability features include improved fragmentation and nuclear blast protection and shock-hardened structure. Automation and integration of systems has enabled a significant reduction in crew, projected to be 361. The ship provides three vehicle decks of 25,402ft² and two cargo holds with 25,548ft³ for bulk cargo and ammunition magazines in addition to 1,234m³ for cargo fuel.
Accommodation is provided for two LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushioned), 700 troops and 14 of the new Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAAV) vehicles. Each LCAC is capable of carrying 60t of cargo and vehicles, including the M1A2 Abrams tank, at speeds of up to 40 knots