NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Construction has started on the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensors (AEM/S) that will give the San Antonio-class (LPD 17) of amphibious transport dock ships their distinctive appearance. The LPD 17 shipbuilding team is assembling what are the largest composite structures to be installed on U.S. Navy steel ships.
Aptly named, the structures will serve a dual-purpose, as both mast and sensor aboard the future USS San Antonio. First, the two masts fully enclose essential radar and communications antennas, reducing the wear and tear from weather and sea spray. In addition, as demonstrated on USS Arthur W. Radford's (DD 968) successful test of one AEM/S, personnel can safely go aloft under extreme weather conditions that currently prohibit "man aloft" operations.
Second, the new masts use an advanced composite hybrid frequency selective surface that allows own ship radar and communication signals to pass through. At the same time, this covering essentially acts as a filter to block noise or other frequencies from off ship sources that might interfere with own ship's emissions. By reducing false targets and limiting signal loss, LPD 17's sensors and communications systems will demonstrate improved performance.
Designed to launch landing forces from over-the-horizon, the LPD 17-class will support conventional and air cushion landing craft, helicopters and the tilt rotor MV-22 Osprey, and the Marine Corps' new Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV). With a length of 684 feet, a beam of 105 feet, and a displacement of more than 25,000 tons, the San Antonio-class will improve the future capabilities of Navy/Marine Corps expeditionary warfare forces.
Scheduled for delivery in November 2004, the new amphibious transport docks will be easy to recognize with the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor systems highlighting their profiles.
For more information on LPD 17, go to www.lpd17.navsea.navy.mil.