WHAT IS AN LSD?
US NAVY SHIP, LANDING SHIP DOCK
The Ships, Excerpts from publication
"Hell on the Beach Landing Craft at War"
As the first ship of a new type, to say that her strange lines brought many curious stares would be an understatement. She looked like something that had gotten away from her builder too soon.
What made the Ashland so strange in appearance was her huge docking well, a cavernous opening 44 feet wide and 396 feet long which ran from the stern to clear up under the bridge ending near the bow. Almost one hundred feet longer than a football field, Ashland’s well deck was only 61 feet short of the ship’s 457 foot overall length. In it would fit 27 LCVPs, 18 LCMs with one LCVP in each, three LCU, one LSM - or anything small enough to fit its nose through the stern opening (during the Korean was another LSD would take aboard a destroyer escort for dry dock repairs). It was realized from the beginning that the Ashland and her sisters to follow would be very versatile and handy ships to have around - not just during infrequent major amphibious landings but for general transport and day to day odd jobs that arise particularly including small craft mainentance. In fact, this is exactly what Maintenance became far better known for, their ability to take smaller craft aboard for on the spot dry dock repairs.
Each LSD was equipped to change screws, shafts and other parts of smaller craft by virtue of a fully equipped machine shop as well as a complete wood shop for working on the smaller wooden-hulled landing craft and PT-boats. The LSD was designed for steam power, an engine room being located in the wings amidships on both sides of the docking well. Ashland and seven sisters built in Oakland were equipped with Skinner eight-cylinder reciprocating uniflow steam engines of 7,000 horsepower each. Later LSDs starting with those launched by Newport News during 1944 would, however, switch to steam turbine power of the high-pressure impulse reaction, single flow Parsons type. LSDs could make 15-16 knots, easily putting them in the “fast transport” category.
The next Moore-built LSD to enter service was the USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) in August followed by Carter Hall (LSD-3), Epping Forrest (LSD-4), Gunston Hall (LSD-5), Lindenwald (LSD-6), Oak Hill (LSD-7) and White Marsh (LSD-8). After Newport News Shipbuilding built four built-for-Britain LSDs, they went on to build what would become the Casa Grande Class. Starting with the Casa Grande (LSD-13), the additional ships included, in order of their launching, Rushmore, Shadwell, Cabildo, Catamount, Colonial and Comstock (LSDs 14 through 19). Cabildo and Catamount were able to see the later stages of action in the Pacific only by virtue of the fact the ever efficient Newport News Shipbuilding had delivered the two ships some six months ahead of schedule, a rather amazing feat when one considers that the construction of these ships had been tacked on to an already full building schedule. Eight more LSD were contracted for during the war years, seven of which were completed and delivered. Donner (LSD-20) and Fort Mandan (LSD-21) were built by the Naval Shipyard at Boston during early 1945 and were both in commission by October of that year.
Gulf Shipbuilding of Chicasaw, Alabama received the contracts for LSDs 22,23 and 24 but the war was drawing to a close. The USS Marion (LSD-22) was launched in May 1945 but was not completed until January of 1946, six months after Japan’s surrender. She was nevertheless commissioned and went on to enjoy a long and distinguished career serving into the 1970s.
The USS San Marcos (LSD-25) the single example of that type built by Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Laid down in September 1944 and commissioned in mid April 1945, she had just arrived off Okinawa with her first war cargo when the Japanese surrended in August. This ship, too, went on to enjoy lengthy career with the U.S. Navy and then was finally transferred to the Spanish Navy in mid 1971 where she served as the Galicia
The last two war-built LSDs, numbers 26 and 27, were also built by the Boston Naval Shipyard but were launched too late in the war to participate in combat operations. Both of these ships, the "USS TORTUGA (LSD-26)" and the USS WHETSTONE (LSD-27) went on, however, to enjoy long service lives with the Navy. The Navy thought so much of the capabilities of the LSD that in the early 1950s it was decided to build a new class of eight ships. Along with the lead ship of the class, the USS Thomaston (LSD-28) which was launched in September 1954, the seven additional ships included Plymouth Rock (LSD-29) Fort Snelling (LSD-30), picking up the name from the WWII LSD-23 which had been canceled, Point Defiance (LSD-31), also picking up the name of the canceled LSD-24, Spielgel Grove (LSD-32), Alamo (LSD-33), Hermitage (LSD-34) and Montecello (LSD-35). These ships sported redesigned superstructures as well as sleeker and more eye pleasing hull lines. This class could be identified from the earlier ships in that its ship had their main lifting cranes and smoke stacks offset from one side to the other.
A decade later, the Navy once again decided to build new LSDs. Authorized in 1956-66, this would be a five ship class named after the lead ship, the USS Anchorage (LSD-36) which was launched in 1965 by Ingalls but not commissioned until March of 1969. The remaining four ships of the class were built by General Dynamics at their Quincy, Massachusetts facility, all being launched during 1966-67 and commissioned between 1970-72. Differing somewhat in superstructure and side view appearance from the Thomaston Class, the five Anchorage Class ships USS Portland (LSD-37), USS Pensacola (LSD-38), USS Mount Vernon (LSD-39) and USS Fort Fisher (LSD-40) were 553 feet in length, 43 feet longer than the earlier ships and could carry a slightly heavier load with a well deck measuring 430’ x 50’.
The ships are easily distinguished from earlier LSDs by their enclosed twin 3-inch gun mounts on either side just ahead of the bridge. The Whidbey Island Class consists of USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), USS Germantown (LSD-42) and Fort McHenry (LSD-43), all of which were along with the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), USS Comstock (LSD-45), "USS TORTUGA (LSD-46)", USS Rushmore (LSD-47) and USS Ashland (LSD-48). The most recent class of ship are the Harpers Ferry Class - Cargo Varient consists of USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-CV 49), USS Carter Hall (LSD-CV 50), USS Oak Hill (LSD-CV 51) and the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-CV 52).
The USS PEARL HARBOR, the first ship to carry the name honors the heroic actions of the members of the armed services as well as the citizens of Oahu during December 7, 1941 attack. Pre-commissioned in July of 1997 and commissioned May 30, 1998, the ship was built by Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like other dock landing ships in its class the Pearl Habor has been built and designed to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles and equipment manned by Marines for amphibious assault. The ship can also render limited docking and repair service to small ships and craft and act as the primary control ship in an amphibious operation. The Pearl Harbor is 609 feet long and will carry a crew including 24 officers and 308 enlisted personnel and a flanding force that includes more than 500 Marine personnel.
I HOPE THE INFORMATION THAT I HAVE PROVIDED HAS HELPED YOU HAVE
A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT AN LSD IS, AND WHAT IT DOES.
TO LEARN MORE, SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS VIEWING "CHUCK'S HOME PORT"
AND BY THE TIME YOU FINISH YOU SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT AN LSD
THAN MOST OLD SALTS THAT SERVED ABOARD THEM.
RETURN TO TORTUGA ASSOC. INFORMATION SITE