, LPD-17, class amphibious ship has had a troubled and challenging history, to say the least. The DOT&E 2013 annual report sheds light on the current status of the class. San Antonio
The class consists of 11 ships, 9 of which are completed and 2 building. The lead ship was completed in 2003. At this point the class should be fully operational and working out any final bugs in the design. The DOT&E report, however, paints a different picture.
The Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) revealed numerous, serious deficiencies that led DOT&E to evaluate the class as
“… not operationally effective, not operationally suitable, and not survivable in a hostile environment.”
The ship’s combat system, the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS), was found to have major problems which have yet to be corrected. In fairness, the SSDS is problematic on all ship classes that it is installed on although the LPD-17 class seems particularly affected.
Reliability issues across many different systems continue to plague the class.
The enclosed mast which proved troublesome early on and almost led to the deletion of the feature in the earlier ships continues to be a problem.
Improvements and fixes that the Navy claims to have made have not been validated in follow-on testing (FOT&E).
DOT&E lists many other problems and you can read the report if have an interest in the details. The salient point is that, now, ten years after the lead ship was completed, the class is still not deemed survivable in combat. There’s just no excuse for this. As has been repeatedly pointed out, the Navy is so focused on new construction that existing ships, however new, just don’t get the attention they need. This is how you build a hollow Navy.