Most posts have a point to them. Not so this one. It’s more of a question. I’d like to take a look at a ship that has always fascinated me and yet my understanding of it is limited and its demise is a mystery to me. I’m talking about the USS Newport (LST-1179) class tank landing ship.
A little background to start …
class LST was the ultimate development of the WWII LST and represented the largest landing ship that could discharge directly onto the beach. The bow doors differed from the classic WWII LST in having a ramp that deployed over the bow as opposed to having the entire bow open up. The ships also had a stern ramp to operate AAVs or mate with other landing craft. The class began construction in 1966 and served through 2002. A dozen or so were sold to foreign navies where they are, presumably, still serving. Bow thrusters allowed enhanced maneuverability. The ships can carry 2000 tons of vehicles and 400 troops. A large helicopter flight deck was located on the aft deck but no hangar. Speed was 22+ kts with Wiki citing a reference to 27 kts. Range was 14,250 nm at cruising speed. Newport
The class was intended to put tanks and heavy vehicles on the beach. That’s straightforward. What I’m puzzled by is the reason for discontinuing the class without a direct successor. I’ve read that the LST line was ended so as to make room for the LPD-17 class but I haven’t found any solid confirmation of that.
My puzzlement stems from the fact that I still see a need for the capability.
I understand that the Marines are largely out of the frontal beach assaults or, indeed, heavy combat. They have relatively few tanks and are planning to cut back on the number they do have. However, the Marines are just one part of the assault effort or, at least of a serious assault effort. The Army will always be the major participant in a serious assault. I’m not sure we can count on friendly, secure ports to land our heavy tanks and equipment at a leisurely pace while the enemy waits patiently for us to complete our buildup (seriously, what was Iraq thinking in Desert Storm?!). Lacking a port, how are we going to get the tanks and heavy equipment ashore? -one at a time with LCACs? If one does the delivery rate math for an LCAC versus an LST, there’s no comparison. An LCU can carry a bit more but there’s still no comparison.
An LCAC is faster but would have to make dozens of trips to equal a single LST delivery. That shoots (pardon the pun) the survivability argument of the LCAC out of the water. Plus, missiles don’t care about the little bit of speed that an LCAC has and area artillery bombardment is completely immune to speed as a defense beyond a somewhat reduced exposure time but, again, the dozens of equivalent trips negates the exposure argument.
Someone help out, here. Why was the LST concept abandoned?