The US Navy’s ninth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, Somerset, is scheduled to be commissioned on 1 March during a ceremony at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, US.
Designated LPD-25, the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) shipbuilding division-built vessel has been named in honour of the United AirLines Flight 93 airline passengers and crew members, who forced hijackers to crash the airplane during 11 September terrorist attacks in 2001.
US Navy Secretary Ray Mabussaid said: "I have no doubt that the sailors and marines who will serve aboard this ship will live up to the ship’s motto of ‘courage through adversity’ and proudly honor those who acted so heroically nearly 13 years ago."
Powered by four turbo-charged diesel engines, the 684ft-long Somerset is designed to support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions for the US Navy.
The ship will be used for transportation of air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing crafts, as well as helicopters and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft,
The San Antonio-class ship has a displacement capacity of 24,900t, overall beam of 105ft and navigational draft of 23ft, and can cruise at a speed of 22k while accommodating a crew of 385 officers and enlisted personnel,
Equipped with self-defence capabilities, including command and control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) suites, Somerset has a reduced radar cross-section, and will join USS New York (LPD 21) and USS Arlington (LPD 24) which are already a part of the navy’s combat force.
The San Antonio-class vessels will replace more than 41 ships currently in service with the US Navy including the Austin-class (LPD 4), Anchorage-class (LSD 36), Charleston-class (LKA 113) and Newport-class (LST 1179) of amphibious ships.
Image: Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Somerset sailing in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: courtesy US Navy /Huntington Ingalls Industries, by Steve Blount/Released.