US Amphibious Ships

The core capability of the USMC, that of delivering combat power to contested shores falls on its ships. Once on land the ground and air elements take over the heavy fighting, but they need to get ashore in a coherent combat ready fashion to have the effect needed.

The US Navy (USN) has the largest and most modern collection of amphibious ships on the planet (The Gator Navy). Although not enough of these ships exist to satisfy the strategic requirement they are still very impressive. The Gator Navy consists of a multitude of ship types and capabilities. Some of which are listed here:

LHD: Landing Helicopter Dock. These extremely capable ships of the Wasp Class are the latest and most capable Amphibious ships in the world. Capable of hosting AV-8B Harriers, helicopters and having a docking bay for landing craft or the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushioned) or hovercraft, one of these ships is capable of carrying 1800 Marines and a full Battalions worth of equipment. At 40,000 tons, these exceptionally flexible ships displace as much or more then most World War Two Battleships and all war era aircraft carriers except the IJN Shinano (which only survived a few days).

Historically only 3 of these ships were commissioned by 1994, however due to increased tensions in Northern Fury the original schedule was maintained and there were 2 more commissioned LHD-5 Bataan joining the fleet at the end of Jan 1994, only two weeks old at war start. The next ship of this class to joint the fleet will be in mid 1995.

LHD-1 USS Wasp

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LHD-1Wasp Jul-89Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LHD-2Essex Oct-92Pacific San Diego
LHD-3Kearsarge Jun-93 Atlantic Norfolk Med 22 MEU
LHD-4Boxer Oct-93Pacific San Diego
LHD-5Bataan Jan-94Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt

LHA: Landing Helicopter Assault. The predecessors to the Wasp class are the Tarawa Class LHA. These ships, while almost as capable as the LHD, are 10 years older both in design and in technology. Each is capable of conducting the same operations but the LHA has a few more limitations. These are still very fine ships and among the best in the world. Of the nine ships originally planned only five were built.

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LHA-1 Tarawa Pacific San Diego
LHA-2 Saipan Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt
LHA-3 Belleau WoodPacific Sesebo Japan
LHA-4 Nassau Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LHA-5 Peleliu Pacific San Diego Indian Ocean 13 MEU
LPH-2 Iwo Jima Atlantic Reserve

LPH: Landing Platform Helicopter. The first dedicated post World War Two large Amphibious Assault ships were the Iwo Jima Class LPH. Only half the displacement of the Tarawa class, these ships have the same task of carrying up to 15-1800 Marines, however they can only carry a small fraction of the cargo, do not have a well deck and therefore cannot deploy an LCAC and can only host about half the air group of the larger ships. These ships are approaching retirement age, having been launched in the 60s but were maintained in the fleet due to the heightened threat. The seven ships in this class are not sequentially numbered.

LPH-2 USS Iwo Jima

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LPH-2 Iwo Jima Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LPH-3 Okinawa Pacific San Diego Refit
LPH-7 Guadalcanal Atlantic Norfolk 2 MEF
LPH-9 Guam Atlantic Norfolk 2 MEF
LPH-10Tripoli Pacific Persian Gulf MCMG
LPH-11New Orleans Pacific San Diego
LPH-12Inchon Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt

LPD: Landing Platform Dock. There are two main classes of these ships. The Raleigh class of two ships was due to retire in the early 90s but was retained. The Austin class of eleven, with three sub classes, the Cleveland sub-class (7 ships) with an additional Flag deck and the Trenton sub-class (2 ships), all are effectively the same. It is worth noting that one Raleigh class and one Austin class were modified to be command ships (AGF-3 La Salle, and AGF-11 Coronado). These ships house about 850 Marines and good amount of heavy equipment. They are often used to carry heavy loads such as the tanks with landing craft Mechanized (LCM) to unload them. They are capable of independent operations.

LPD 6 USS Duluth

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LPD-1 Raleigh Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LPD-2 Vancouver Pacific San Diego
LPD-4 Austin Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt
LPD-5 Ogden Pacific San Diego
LPD-6 Duluth Pacific San Diego
LPD-7 Cleveland Pacific San Diego Indian Ocean 13 MEU
LPD-8 Dubuque Pacific San Diego
LPD-9 Denver Pacific San Diego
LPD-10Juneau Pacific Sasebo Japan
LPD-12Shreveport Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LPD-13Nashville Atlantic Norfolk Med 22 MEU
LPD-14Trenton Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LPD-15Ponce Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt

LSD: Landing Ship Dock. Although very similar in appearance and size to the LPD, the LSDs primary purpose is to transport landing craft and LCACs, it only holds half the Marines of an LPD and much less heavy equipment and cargo. They can house up to 4 LCACs however. Of the three classes, LSD-36 Anchorage (5 ships) is the smallest, holding 3x LCACs, LSD-41 Whidbey Island (8 ships) can hold 4x LCAC, while the newest class being rushed into service, LSD-49 Harpers Ferry can only hold 2x LCACs but 10 times the cargo of the others.

LSD-41 Whidbey Island

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LSD-36USS Anchorage Pacific San Diego
LSD-37USS Portland Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LSD-38USS Pensacola Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LSD-39USS Mount VernonPacific San Diego Indian Ocean 13 MEU
LSD-40USS Fort Fisher Pacific San Diego
LSD-41Whidbey Island Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LSD-42Germantown Pacific Japan
LSD-43Fort McHenry Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LSD-44Gunston Hall Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LSD-45Comstock Pacific San Diego
LSD-46Tortuga Atlantic Little Creek Med 22 MEU
LSD-47Rushmore Pacific San Diego
LSD-48Ashland Pacific Japan
LSD-49Harpers Ferry Pacific San Diego
LSD-50Carter Hall Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt

LST: Landing Ship Tank. The smallest of what can be called an amphibious ship in the USN, these specialty ships are much improved decedents of the famous LSTs that landed on the beaches of Normandy and virtually every other beach assaulted by the Allies in World War Two. Able to lay down a ramp to unload over its bow, and open a loading gate in the stern of the ship, these ships carry up to 29 tanks and 350 Marines directly to the landing area, land them directly onto the beach or dock, and can act as a causeway for larger ships unloading by ramp into the stern and driving through the LST onto the beach. Unloading by helicopter or crane onto a dock or small boats is also available.

LST 1182 USS Fresno

PennantNameDateFleetHome PortTask
LST-1179Newport Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LST-1180Manitowoc Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LST-1181Sumter Atlantic Little Creek Mediterranean
LST-1182Fresno Pacific San Diego
LST-1183Peoria Pacific San Diego Philippines
LST-1184Frederick Pacific Pearl Hbr
LST-1185Schenectady Pacific San Diego
LST-1186Cayuga Pacific San Diego Standby off Mogadishu
LST-1187Tuscaloosa Pacific San Diego Australia
LST-1188Saginaw Pacific San Diego
LST-1189San Bernardino Pacific San Diego Philippines
LST-1190Boulder County Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LST-1191Racine Atlantic Little Creek 8th Mar Regt
LST-1192Spartanburg County Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LST-1193Fairfax County Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LST-1194La Moure County Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LST-1195Barbour County Pacific San Diego Transit to Mogadishu
LST-1196Harlan County Atlantic Little Creek 6th Mar Regt
LST-1197Barnstable County Atlantic Little Creek Caribbean
LST-1198Bristol County Pacific San Diego Mediterranean
LST Unloading

LST lowering ramp onto causeway