During World War II, the war factor catalyzed the release of the maximum potential of the American industry. In the early stage of the Pacific War, the US Navy did not have an advantage in the number of available ships. As a result, the “explosive force” immediately completed the crushing of the Japanese Navy in the later period. . During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy was under pressure from the Soviet Union to build ships of considerable size and quality. However, since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding industry has begun to degenerate wildly, and it has also begun to distort the “tech tree” in various ways. In recent years, the speed of the US Navy’s entry of new ships has been far surpassed by the Chinese Navy. Now the US Navy, which is under great pressure, seems to be shifting its target from the original quality type to the quantitative scale type.
According to U.S. media reports, the U.S. Navy’s 12th “San Antonio”-class landing dock ship, named “Fort Lauderdale”, was officially commissioned. The ship has a length of 208.5 meters, a width of 31.9 meters, a draft of 7 meters, a full-load displacement of 25,000 tons, and a maximum range of 8,000 nautical miles. In terms of weapon configuration, the ship can carry two “Big Viper II” 30mm automatic cannons, two “Hiram” air defense systems, and reserve upgrade space for the MK41 vertical launch system.
As a dock landing ship, its necessary amphibious warfare equipment is naturally indispensable. The ship can carry CH46 “Sea King” helicopters and the recently-problem MV22 “Osprey” tilt-rotor aircraft, and can transport 650 marines at one time.
On the surface, it seems that the ship’s indicators are no different from the previous “San Antonio”-class dock landing ships, but the “Fort Lauderdale” is a downright “low-profile version”. The most striking feature of its appearance is the disappearance of the integrated mast in the past and the use of a traditional tubular mast.
So why did the U.S. Navy abandon the integrated mast with stealth capabilities? The answer is simple, because the Gulfport, Mississippi complex, which once produced integrated masts for the San Antonio-class landing dock ships and Zumwalt-class destroyers, closed permanently eight years ago.
The evolution of the U.S. Navy’s models (for example, the evolution of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers from Type I to Type II) almost represents a substantial improvement in various configurations. It is the first time to see a reverse upgrade like the San Antonio class. The “Fort Lauderdale” belongs to the transitional model of the San Antonio class from Flight I to Flight II, and the various configurations of the real Flight II will be cut more fiercely.
It not only replaced the integrated mast with a light alloy mast, but also cancelled the AN/SPS48E three-coordinate long-range air-to-air warning radar and replaced it with the same TRS3D radar as the Littoral Combat Ship. You must know that the US Navy currently has two littoral Combat ships have already begun the road to early retirement.
In addition, the follow-up model does not even have the carrying capacity of the MV22 “Osprey” tiltrotor, because the traditional large hangar is replaced by a small hangar. On the Flight I, the RHIB assault boat has a closed storage compartment, but the Type II has been changed to open storage. In addition, its ability to carry LCAC air-cushion landing craft has also been cut down to only one.
The Type I can theoretically carry 800 marines, the transitional model has been cut to 650 people, and the Type II has only 500 people left, and even the most basic amphibious combat command equipment has been cut. It is also worth mentioning that the most important equipment for American soldiers in peacetime, the entertainment facilities, are also gone.
Although the various configurations of the ship have shrunk in all directions, the US military still plans to build a large number of them – the total construction scale is expected to be 13 ships. Now it seems that the US military’s slogan of “500 warships” is probably to build more similar ships with smaller tonnage and lower configuration in the future to forcibly make up for the number.
In recent years, the traditional advantages of scientific and technological innovation of the United States, the technological advantages of the shipbuilding industry and the advantages of production capacity are rapidly disappearing. The Chinese navy is still “making dumplings” in large numbers. In the future, the gap between the navies of the two countries will become smaller and smaller until the U.S. military is overtaken.