A city in California.
(LPD-22: displacement 25,883; length 684'; beam 105'; draft 23'; speed 22+ knots; complement 396, troop capacity 699 (800+ surge); armament 2 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers, 2 Bushmaster II 30 millimeter Close-in Guns, and 10 .50 caliber machine guns; aircraft launch or recover 2 Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions, or 2 Bell Boeing MV-22B Ospreys, or up to 4 Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights, Bell AH-1Z Vipers, or Bell UH-1Y Venoms; class San Antonio)
The fourth San Diego (LPD-22) was laid down on 23 May 2007 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations; launched on 7 May 2010; sponsored by Mrs. Linda E. Winter, wife of Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter; and commissioned at the Navy Pier at San Diego, Calif., on 19 May 2012, Cmdr. Kevin P. Meyers in command.
The dark blue represents the traditional mission of a deep-water Navy, while the lighter blue represents the near shore environments where San Diego carries out her mission. The Spanish caravel and the stylized dolphins are adapted from the city of San Diego’s coat of arms. The caravel is an artistic representation of San Salvador, the flagship of Juan R. Cabrillo, a Spanish explorer who landed in San Diego Bay in 1542. The caravel flies a blue and gold pennant, the city of San Diego flag, and a flag with six lightning bolts, alluding to San Diego as the sixth ship of the San Antonio class of amphibious transport docks (LPDs). The demi-trident indicates naval dominance and the ship’s ability to conduct expeditionary operations to support maritime strategy utilizing the Marine Corps’ mobility triad—the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), landing craft air cushion (LCAC), and the Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey. The four stars denote the four ships that bear the name San Diego. The red represents the Marine Corps. The eighteen (18) gold stars pay tribute to the battle stars awarded to light cruiser San Diego (CL-53) for her service during World War II.
The belfry, also adapted from the city of San Diego’s coat of arms, recalls the city’s origin as a Christian mission settlement. The mission bell has been replaced with a ship’s bell acknowledging the city’s long standing connection to the Navy and to maritime industry. The palm wreath signifies honor and victory.
The Navy officer’s sword, the Marine Corps Mameluke, and the enlisted sailor’s and marine’s blades symbolize the synergy between the two services. Furthermore, the placement of the swords symbolizes the leadership and direction provided by commissioned officers, combined with the strength and support of the senior enlisted cadre, forging the foundation of San Diego’s crew and the Navy-Marine Corps team.
The ship arrives for commissioning at her new home port of San Diego, Calif., after completing her maiden voyage from Pascagoula, Miss., 6 April 2012. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rosalie Garcia, U.S. Navy Photograph 120406-N-DH124-037, Navy NewsStand)
Sailors fire a .50-caliber machine gun during a live-fire exercise on board San Diego in the Pacific, 12 November 2013. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Vazquez, U.S. Navy Photograph 131113-N-KB426-380, Navy NewsStand)
Senior project managers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), who oversaw the Exploration Flight Test (EFT-1) for the uncrewed Orion spacecraft, conferred with Rear Adm. Fernandez L. Ponds, commander Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, and Capt. William R. Grotewold, the ship’s commanding officer, on board San Diego at her home port of San Diego (12 September 2013). They discussed plans to retrieve Orion’s space capsule during her splashdown in a scheduled test off the coast of Southern California.
“We had a chance to display the ship’s capability, show the crew’s enthusiasm and demonstrate that our amphibious capability is multi-dimensional. Just one more thing that our Navy can do,” Ponds explained. “The LPD 17-class ships have one of the most robust command and control communications systems in our Navy inventory.”
The space agency’s planners intended Orion to reach an altitude of nearly 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface during EFT-1. Following the test flight, she was to reenter the atmosphere at a speed of more than 20,000 miles per hour and splashdown in the Pacific. The flight was to test the capsule’s avionics, heat shield, and parachutes, and the Navy was tasked to locate and recover the craft.
“NASA did a trade study whether they wanted Orion to land on the ground or in the water,” Andy Quiett, Detachment 3 deputy operations lead for the Orion program and Department of Defense (DoD) liaison for NASA said, “and because of the size, weight and the deep space requirements of the vehicle, they determined it needed to land in water.” Orion’s life support, propulsion, thermal protection, and avionics systems enable the spacecraft to extend the duration of her deep space missions, as part of the goal to eventually land on Mars.
A test version of Orion’s space capsule touches down in the Arizona desert during a parachute test, 24 July 2013. (NASA Archives)
Amphibious transport dock Anchorage (LPD-23) recovered Orion’s crew module, forward bay cover, and parachutes when the spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific during EFT-1 on 5 December 2014. NASA and the Navy utilized the valuable experience gained working with San Diego to safely recover Orion.
San Diego operates with Amphibious Squadron 5 out of San Diego. During the ship’s future overseas deployments, she will embark marines of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
2 January 2014