The US Bought Another Of These 'Unreliable' $1.5-Billion Ships

loading platform dock ship lpd

Photo: John Hamilton / US Navy

Able to carry 800 Marines and their gear anyplace they need to go — the San Antonio Class Amphibious Transport Dock is vital for projecting U.S. forces abroad: but they don’t come cheap.The newest vessel will cost American taxpayers about $1.5 billion and is designed to be the the most survivable amphibious assault ship ever designed.

While the defence Department’s director of evaluations doesn’t agree, and thinks the ship’s critical systems aren’t reliable, and the ship will crumble against an attack — it didn’t stop the Pentagon from purchasing one more — last week.

Given the ship’s weighty cost and its debatable abilities we thought we’d take a look at what the Pentagon’s getting for the taxpayers’ dollars.

The Navy's six active San Antonio-class amphibious Landing Platform Dock ships are an integral part of the Navy's future

The flight deck holds up to four Sea Knight helicopters that together can transport 100 troops or 28,000 pounds of cargo

In addition to the Sea Knight choppers the LPD's carry V-22 Ospreys and can launch two at once

This Osprey is launching from the USS Mesa Verde, the third ship in the San Antonio class

As important as the hanger deck is, the real advantage of the Amphibious Transport Dock ship is down below decks

Here, the USS New York is opening the well deck

Shown here completely open, the New York's well deck is prepared to take in an Amphibious Assault Vehicle.

Here, a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft prepares to enter the USS New Orleans

The well deck can contain two of these hovercrafts

The LCAC hovercraft can hold 60 tons of material and is armed with two machine guns and multiple weapon mounts

The Amphibious Transport Dock can alternatively hold a single conventional Landing Craft Utility boat

The LCU can hold either 150 tons of tanks, trucks and cargo, or 400 marines

Once the LCU is secured, the well deck can drain and the cargo can be offloaded

The San Antonio class-ships can hold up to 700 marines

The ships are powered by four diesel engines; here, a sailor fires a shot-line to a replenishment oiler so that the USS New Orleans can refuel on the go

The ships also have these smaller lifeboats which can be used to render assistance to ailing boats

The ships are armed; here, the USS Green Bay fires a surface to air missile

The ships often have some relationship with their namesake city, like the USS Green Bay's love of the Packers

The USS New York's bow stem contains salvaged steel from the World Trade centre

The USS San Antonio's sponsor is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas

The soon-to-be-commissioned Somerset was launched in April and incorporates steel from near the site of the crash of Flight 93 in Somerset County, PA

The last two ships are being built now

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