Dock landing ship

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A dock landing ship (also called landing ship, dock or LSD) is an amphibious warfare ship with a well dock to transport and launch landing craft and amphibious vehicles.[1] Some ships with well decks, such as the Soviet Ivan Rogov class, also have bow doors to enable them to deliver vehicles directly onto a beach (like a Landing Ship, Tank). Modern dock landing ships also operate helicopters.

A ship with a well deck (docking well) can transfer cargo to landing craft in rougher seas than a ship that has to use cranes or a stern ramp.[2] The US Navy hull classification symbol for a ship with a well deck depends on its facilities for aircraft – a (modern) LSD has a helicopter deck, a LPD also has a hangar, and a LHD or LHA has a full-length flight deck.[2]


The LSD (US Navy hull classification for landing ship, dock) came as a result of a British requirement during the Second World War for a vessel that could carry large landing craft across the seas at speed.

The predecessor of all modern LSDs is Shinshū Maru of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which could launch her infantry landing craft using an internal rail system and a stern ramp. She entered service in 1935 and saw combat in China and during the initial phase of Japanese offenses during 1942.

The first LSD of the Royal Navy came from a design by Sir Roland Baker who had designed the British Landing Craft, Tank. It was an answer to the problem of launching small craft rapidly. The "Landing Ship Stern Chute", which was a converted train ferry, was an early attempt. Thirteen Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) could be launched from these ships down the chute. The Landing Ship Gantry was a converted tanker with a crane to transfer its cargo of landing craft from deck to sea – 15 LCM in a little over half an hour.[3]

The design was developed and built in the US for the US Navy and the Royal Navy. The LSD could carry 36 LCM at 16 knots (30 km/h). It took one and a half hours for the dock to be flooded down and two and half to pump it out. When flooded they could also be used as docks for repairs to small craft.

Amphibious vehicles inside a US LSD

Vessels of the LSD hull classification[edit]

In the United States Navy, two related groups of vessels classified as LSDs are in service as of 2011, the Whidbey Island and Harpers Ferry classes, mainly used to carry hovercraft (LCACs), operate helicopters, and carry Marines.[4]

The British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) operates three Bay-class landing ships based on the Dutch-Spanish Enforcer design in support of the Royal Navy's operations, while a fourth ship of the class – previously in RFA service – is now operated by the Royal Australian Navy.

Former US LSDs include the Ashland class, Casa Grande class, Thomaston class and Anchorage class.

LSD classes[edit]

In service[edit]

Country Class In service Commissioned Length Beam Draft Displacement (mt) Note
 Australia Choules 1 2011 176.6 m (579 ft) 26.4 m (87 ft) 5.8 m (19 ft) 17,810 Ex-RFA Largs Bay (L3006) sold to Royal Australian Navy in April 2011, renamed to HMAS Choules (L-100). HMAS Choules starboard bow.jpg
 Brazil Ceará 1 1989 160 m (520 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 5.94 m (19.5 ft) 11,989 In reserve, ex-USS Hermitage (LSD-34) loaned to Brazilian Navy in 1989, renamed to Ceará (G30), sold to Brazilian Navy in 2001.
 Republic of China Hsu Hai 1 2000 169 m (554 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 6.1 m (20 ft) 14,225 Ex-USS Pensacola (LSD-38) sold to Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy in 2000, renamed to ROCS Hsu Hai (LSD-193).
 United Kingdom Bay 3 2007 176.6 m (579 ft) 26.4 m (87 ft) 5.8 m (19 ft) 17,810 RFA Lyme Bay in Plymouth Sound.jpg
 United States Whidbey Island 8 1985 186 m (610 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 5.94 m (19.5 ft) 16,100 US Navy 050117-F-4884R-015 he amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) makes a wide turn prior to conducting helicopter operations off the coast of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.jpg
Harpers Ferry 4 1995 185.80 m (609.6 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 5.94 m (19.5 ft) 19,600 US Navy 071007-N-4014G-055 Dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) approaches Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) for an underway replenishment.jpg


Country Class In service Commissioned Length Beam Draft Displacement (mt) Note
 Argentina Cándido de Lasala 1 1970–1981 139.5 m (458 ft) 22.0 m (72.2 ft) 4.83 m (15.8 ft) 7,930 Ex-USS Gunston Hall (LSD-5) sold to Argentina in 1970 and renamed to ARA Cándido de Lasala (Q-43), scrapped after 1981. ARACandidodeLasalaQ43.jpg
 Brazil Rio de Janeiro 1 1990–2012 160 m (520 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 5.94 m (19.5 ft) 11,989 Ex-USS Alamo (LSD-33) loaned to Brazilian Navy in 1990, renamed to Rio de Janeiro (G31). NDD Rio de Janeiro (G-31).jpg
 Republic of China Chung Cheng 1 1977–1985 139.5 m (458 ft) 22.0 m (72.2 ft) 4.83 m (15.8 ft) 7,930 Ex-USS White Marsh (LSD-8) loaned to the ROC Navy in 1960 and renamed to ROCS Chung Cheng (LSD-191), scrapped 1985.
Chung Cheng 1 1984–2012 139.5 m (458 ft) 22.0 m (72.2 ft) 4.83 m (15.8 ft) 7,930 Ex-USS Comstock (LSD-19) sold for scrapping on 17 October 1984 by MARAD, salvage by ROC Navy and commissioned in 1984, renamed to ROCS Chung Cheng (LSD-191). USS Comstock (LSD-19) underway off Korea 1951.jpg
 Soviet Union Ivan Rogov 3 1978–2002 157 m (515 ft) 23.8 m (78 ft) 6.7 m (22 ft) 14,060 Ivan Rogov and Aleksandr Nikolayev are now being preserved; Mitrofan Moskalenko was being auctioned off for scrapping in 2012.[5] DoD-Ivan Rogov-DN-SN-85-07169 50pct.jpg
 United States Ashland 8 1943–1969 139.5 m (458 ft) 22.0 m (72.2 ft) 4.83 m (15.8 ft) 7,930 Ex-USS Gunston Hall (LSD-5) sold to Argentina and scrapped after 1981 and Ex-USS White Marsh (LSD-8) sold to Taiwan and scrapped 1985; rest scrapped from 1968 to 1970. USS Lindenwald (LSD-6) underway in Hampton Roads 1965.jpg
Casa Grande 13 1944–1970 139.5 m (458 ft) 22.0 m (72.2 ft) 4.83 m (15.8 ft) 7,930 Ex-USS Shadwell (LSD-15) is only ship in the class still exist and it is still in use as a test and training platform in the development of fire models and other damage and control systems, most others scrapped or sunk as target. USS Comstock (LSD-19) underway off Korea 1951.jpg
Thomaston 7 1954–1990 160 m (520 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 5.94 m (19.5 ft) 11,989 Ex-USS Alamo (LSD-33) loaned to Brazilian Navy (now decommissioned) and ex-USS Hermitage (LSD-34) loaned (now in reserve) and late sold to Brazilian Navy. USS Thomaston;10122801.jpg
Anchorage 5 1969–2003 169 m (554 ft) 26.0 m (85.3 ft) 6.1 m (20 ft) 14,225 Ex-USS Pensacola (LSD-38) sold to Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy and only active ship with all others scrapped or sunk as target. US Navy 030117-N-2069B-002 USS Anchorage (LSD 36) departs San Diego Bay.jpg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mother of Minesweepers". Popular Mechanics: 97–104, see drawings pp. 98–99. February 1952. 
  2. ^ a b "World Wide Landing Ship Dock/Landing Platform Dock". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  3. ^ Brown 2006, p. 145
  4. ^ US Navy Office of Information Fact File – LSD
  5. ^ [1]

Cited literature[edit]

  • Brown, D. K. (November 2006). Nelson to Vanguard. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-602-X. 

External links[edit]