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Whidbey Island class

Landing ship dock

Whidbey Island class LSD

The Whidbey Island class can accommodate more hovercraft, than any other amphibious assault vessel

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1985
Crew 413 men
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 185.5 m
Beam 25.6 m
Draught 6.3 m
Displacement, standard ?
Displacement, full load 15 726 - 16 740 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 22 knots
Range 14 800 km at 18 knots
Propulsion 4 x diesel engines delivering 33 000 shp to two shafts
Troops (normal) 402 men
Troops (surge capacity) 627 men
Vehicles ?
Cargo ?
Landing craft
Landing craft 4 x LCAC or 21 LCM or 3 x LCU
Helicopters 2 x CH-53 Sea Stallions
Artillery 2 x General Dynamics 20 mm Vulcan Phalanx Mk 15 CIWS, 2 x 25 mm Mk 38 guns, 8 x 12.7 mm machine guns


   Based on the Anchorage class, the Whidbey Island class were conceived as replacements for the Thomaston class landing ships docks. The first Whidbey Island vessel was laid down in 1981. In 1988 the class was enlarged from 8 to 12 units, the last four forming a sub-class (The Harpers Ferry class LSD-CVs or Landing Ship Dock-Cargo Variant ship) with an enhanced cargo capacity. The LSD 41 (Landing Ship Dock-41) Programme replaced the eight ageing LSD 28-class ships which reached the end of their service lives during the 1980s.

   The Whidbey Island class were designed from the outset to operate LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) hovercraft. These carry a 60-ton payload and travel at speeds in excess of 40 kts in calm conditions, enabling amphibious assaults to be made over greater distances and against a wide variety of beaches. The well deck measures 134.1 m by 15.2 m. It can accommodate four hovercraft, which is more than any other amphibious assault vessel.

   The most obvious visual differences between the sub-classes are that the LSD-CVs have only one crane and that the forward Phalanx CIWS is mounted atop the bridge on LSD 41-48 but below and forward of the superstructure on the Harpers Ferry class.

   USS Whidbey Island trialled the QRCC (Quick Reaction Combat Capability) system from June 1993. The combination of RIM-116A missiles, Phalanx CIWS and AN/SLQ-32 EW system was accorded a higher priority after the Iraqi Exocet attack against the USS Stark in 1987. Not designated the SSDS (Ship Self Defense System) it has been installed on all Whidbey Island class ships.

   The Whidbey Island class ships are intended to land a battalion of US Marines via four LCAC hovercraft, 21 LCMs (Landing Craft Medium) or three LCUs (Landing Craft Utilities). Alternatively, the troops can be landed in 64 AAV7A1 amphibious tracked armoured personnel carriers. The LSD-CV cargo variants deploy fewer landing craft: two hovercraft, nine LCMs or one LCU. In addition to the anti-aircraft and anti-missile guns and missile carried for active defence, extensive passive measures are available. A powerful ESM suite is complemented by chaff rockets capable of 'seducing' incoming missiles and AN/SLQ-49 chaff buoys that are effective for several hours in moderate sea conditions, producing a radar signature greater than that of the ship. The Nixie decoy system has a similar effect on torpedoes trying to target the ship.

   The first two units cost over $300 million. The last four averaged $150 million per ship. 1996 figures quoted the annual operating cost of one of these vessels at approximately $20 million.



Whidbey Island class LSD

Whidbey Island class LSD

Whidbey Island class LSD

Whidbey Island class LSD


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