The US Navy has announced that it will not buy additional San Antonio-class amphibious warships in its $842 billion FY2024 budget. This decision is significant as the San Antonio class (LPD-17 Flight II) is one of the largest and arguably most capable warships in the US Navy’s arsenal. It is seen as a critical element for force projection and power projection in the years to come. 

Why Has Production Been Halted?

The Navy has decided to pause production of LPD-17 Flight II warships due to a strategic pause for evaluating amphibious warships as part of its overall review of current shipbuilding capabilities and future requirements. This evaluation was prompted by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s suggestion that the Marine Corps should examine ways of becoming more expeditionary, with smaller vessels that can be deployed faster than larger ships like aircraft carriers or LPD-17’s Flight II warships. 

“Depending on the length of a strategic pause, it risks the complete shutdown of a line. If a shipbuilding line shuts down, the risk to meeting future requirements greatly increases,” Maj. Josh Benson told USNI News. “Shipyards will be forced to cut workforce personnel. These losses will include skilled labor with years of experience that have been carried forward from keel to keel.”

As part of this evaluation, the Navy is developing a Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) to assess potential future ship capabilities based on operational requirements rather than specific vessel types or quantities requested by individual commands or services within DoD.