On Saturday, July 28, Ingalls Shipbuilding will christen the company’s ninth amphibious transport dock, Somerset (LPD 25). LPD 25 is named in honor of the courage of the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pa. Patrick White, president of Families of Flight 93, whose cousin, Louis J. Nacke II, died on board United Flight 93, is the principal speaker.
The LPD 17-class ships are 684 feet long and 105 feet wide and displace approximately 25,000 tons. Their principal mission is to deploy the combat and support elements of Marine Expeditionary Units and Brigades. The ships can carry up to 800 troops and have the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing crafts, augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft such as the MV-22. The ships will support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Cole Hayes is the ship’s prospective commanding officer. He will lead a crew of 360 officers and sailors as well as three Marines.
The 11 ships of the LPD 17 class are a key element of the Navy’s ability to project power ashore. Collectively, they functionally replace more than 41 ships (the LPD 4, LSD 36, LKA 113 and LST 1179 classes of amphibious ships), providing the Navy and Marine Corps with modern, sea-based platforms that are networked, survivable and built to operate with 21st century platforms, such as the MV-22 Osprey.
Ingalls has delivered six ships in the class and will deliver Anchorage (LPD 23) on Monday, July 23. Advance procurement contracts have been awarded for an 11th ship, LPD 27.
Additional family members of the Flight 93 heroes will be in attendance.
Mrs. Mary Jo Myers, wife of Gen. Richard Myers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the ship sponsor and will break a ceremonial bottle across LPD 25′s bow at the culmination of the ceremony. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed on the company website.
Naval Today Staff, July 23, 2012; Image: HII