Note the crew lined up along the rails.
The San Antonio class is the United States Navy's primary class of amphibious transport dock (LPD). It is replacing the older Austin-, Cleveland-, and Trenton- class LPDs as well as the Anchorage-class dock landing ships, Newport-class tank landing ships, and one class that has already been retired, the Charleston-class amphibious cargo ships. Thus, the twelve planned San Antonios will replace a total of 41 ships; however the San Antonio class's funding may be reduced in 2006 as a result of suspected budget cuts, and only nine ships will likely be funded. There are currently nine San Antonio-class LPDs under construction; LPDs 24 through 28 are planned, but have not been awarded to a shipyard or all named.
The class's increased vehicle and substantial cargo carrying capacity will make it a key element of 21st century Amphibious Ready Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups, or Joint task forces. The 12 ships of the new class integrate the latest in shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (EFVs) and air cushion or conventional landing craft.
The San Antonios are designed to be the most survivable amphibious ships ever put to sea. The design incorporates state-of-the-art self-defense capabilities; Command and Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I); and reduced radar cross-section signature technologies. Reduced operational costs and an improved capability to incorporate technological advances over its 40-year service life are also essential design objectives. The Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensors, which enclose the ship's radars and communications antennas, characterize the ship's distinctive profile. The ship's ability to carry Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCACs) and EFVs, the Shipboard Wide Area Network with over 762 fiber optic drops, Total Ship's Training System, Integrated Bridge System, Engineering Control System, and Damage Control System all serve to ensure that sailors and Marines will be able to fully perform their expeditionary warfare missions. The San Antonios also incorporate the latest quality of life standards for the embarked Marines and sailors, including the sit-up berth, ship services mall, and Learning Resource Center/Electronic Classroom with the flexibility to accommodate sailors and Marines of both sexes as part of the crew and embarked troops.