Navy Awards Lockheed Contract To Construct Third Dock Landing Ship

The U.S. Navy has announced the award of a construction contract to Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company, Seattle, Wash., to build the third ship of the Whidbey Island class dock landing ships. The ship, to be known as LSD-43, will be built at Lockheed's Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle. Contract award value is $271.4 million which includes $62.8 million already awarded to Lockheed on October 29, 1982, for the purchase of Long Lead Time Materials (LLTM).

The LSD-43 construction contract signed by Lockheed Shipbuilding president L.A. Smith and U.S. Navy officials (Naval Sea Systems Command) in the nation's capital, calls for Lockheed to launch LSD-43 in December 1985.

The 609-foot ship, which will not be named until it is launched, is the third of three U.S. Navy dock landing ships under contract to Lockheed. This contract, the third in less than two years, brings to almost $1 billion the contract awards for the three ships.

LSD-41 and LSD-42 are now under construction at Lockheed's Seattle shipyard. The LSD-41 (named Whidbey Island) is 50 percent complete, and will be launched June 10, 1983. The LSD- 42 is approximately 10 percent built and will be launched in August 1984. LSD-42 will not be named until its launching.

The Navy's award of the construction contract for the LSD- 43 will enable Lockheed Shipbuilding to maintain its current workforce of approximately 3,300 employees. Many craft employees now involved in extensive overhauls of Navy destroyers since February 1982, will be reassigned from Lockheed's overhaul facility to duties on LSD-43 construction when the final destroyer is delivered to the Navy in June 1983.

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships are amphibious assault ships designed to carry combat-ready U.S. Marines and their equipment to designated areas around the world. At those designated points, the Lockheedbuilt ships launch their 87-foot by 47-foot air cushion landing craft (LCACs) from the ship's 440-foot hollow wet well.

The ship lowers its stern gate, floods ballast tanks, lowers itself into the sea, and allows the LCACs — loaded with the Marines, tanks, and other equipment — to exit the ship. The troops are then carried onto and over the shoreline to tactical assault points ashore while the LSD-41/ 42/43 sits "over the horizon" to await the return of the LCACs and Marines.

The LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushion in Navy terminology) are being built for the Navy under a contract awarded to Bell Aerospace division of Textron Industries at Bell's New Orleans facility.

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships are designed to replace the aging Thomaston class (LSD-28) dock landing ships as that class of ships reaches the end of its 30-year service life.

The first of those ships is scheduled to be removed from active fleet status coincidental with the commissioning of Whidbey Island (LSD-41) in late 1985.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 64,  Mar 1983 Bob Black

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