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US Navy San Antonio-class Richard M. McCool Jr. completes sea trials.

| Naval News Navy 2024

On February 1, 2024, Huntington Ingalls (HII), the largest military shipbuilding company in the United States, announced the completion of the sea trials for the amphibious transport dock ship USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29). The San Antonio-class vessel underwent testing in the Gulf of Mexico to evaluate its operational readiness and system functionality before its expected delivery in the spring.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) represents the 13th and ultimate vessel of the Flight I configuration within the San Antonio class of amphibious transport dock ships. (Picture source: HII)

The USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) is part of the San Antonio-class of amphibious transport dock ships, utilized for various missions by the US Navy's expeditionary force, including amphibious assault and humanitarian aid.

Ingalls Shipbuilding has a history of delivering San Antonio-class ships, with the USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) marking the completion of the 13th and final Flight I vessel in the series. Currently, the shipyard has three LPDs under construction, including LPD 30 and LPD 31, aimed at replacing older dock landing ship classes.

The LPD 29, named after Richard M. McCool Jr., has a displacement of 25,000 tons and an overall length of 208.5 meters. Propelled by four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines generating 40,000 horsepower, the vessel can achieve a speed of up to 22 knots.

The ship is designed to accommodate a significant complement of personnel, with housing for up to 699 individuals, expandable to 800 if necessary. Its crew includes 28 officers and 333 enlisted personnel, ensuring operational readiness across various missions. The ability to transport and deploy Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) or Landing Craft Utility (LCU) enhances its versatility for amphibious operations.

Regarding armament, the USS Richard M. McCool Jr. is equipped for both surface and air defense. It features two 30 mm Bushmaster II cannons for surface threat deterrence and two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers to counter airborne threats. Additionally, the ship can accommodate and deploy either four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft simultaneously, adding to its operational flexibility.

As the final Flight I San Antonio-class vessel, the USS Richard M. McCool Jr. incorporates design enhancements aimed at optimizing cost efficiency and operational effectiveness. These improvements, including simplified bow works and advanced radar systems like the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), signify a forward-looking approach to naval capabilities.

Furthermore, In March 2023, Ingalls received a $1.3 billion modification to a previously awarded contract from the US Navy for the procurement of the detail design and construction of LPD 32, named Philadelphia, the 16th ship in the San Antonio class, and the third LPD Flight II.

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