No, it’s not a doctored photo. That’s two — TWO — San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships operating simultaneously.
To be fair, two of the other three commissioned ships in the class are also at sea. Mesa Verde and Green Bay are deployed. New Orleans just completed sea trials following a scheduled maintenance period. New York took part in the recent Fleet Week event in New York City and, as you can see in the June 9 photo above, is now underway, conducting unit-level training. But let’s face it: This is a rare pic — particularly since San Antonio is in it.
The class has been beset with problems from the day in 2005 when the Navy accepted San Antonio and a mountain of mechanical and electrical problems that have limited it to one deployment in five years as a commissioned ship. It’s now in the second phase of sea trials that follow cancellation of this year’s scheduled deployment and extensive — and expensive — repair work ordered by Fleet Forces Command.
Subsequent ships in the class came to the Navy in better shape than San Antonio, but only slightly. In late 2009, inspectors discovered that a bent crankshaft in one of New York’s four diesel engines, our colleague Christopher Cavas reported. Similar problems had surfaced earlier on Mesa Verde and Green Bay. New Orleans had propulsion, communication and well deck/vehicle ramp issues.
Given the problems, and the prodigious efforts to correct them, the above photo struck us as unique.
The entire program has obviously been a mess. Everyone, from Congress and Big Navy to the waterfront, is pulling for the class, and its hard-working crews, to put the problems in the rear-view mirror and fully join the fleet.