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USS La Salle (AGF 3).
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Class: LA SALLE (AGF 3)
Design: SCB Project No. 187 (Navy LPD 1 class)
Displacement (tons): 9,559 light, 13,634 full
Dimensions (feet): 522' oa, 500'wl x 107' e, 84'wl x 22' max nav
Armament: 4-3"/50T; (1982) 2-3"/50T, 2-CIWS; (1990) 2-3"/50T, 2-25mmS, 2-CIWS; (1993) 2-25mmS, 2-CIWS
Accommodations: 72 officers and 593 enlisted
Speed (kts.): 21.6 (20 sustained)
Propulsion (HP): 24,000
Machinery: Steam turbines, 2 boilers (600psi), 2 screws
|3||LA SALLE||1 Jul 1972||NSY New York||2 Apr 1962||3 Aug 1963||22 Feb 1964|
|3||LA SALLE||27 May 2005||27 May 2005||11 Apr 2007||Target||--|
In 1956 the Navy conceived of a new type of amphibious ship, the LPD (first called Landing ship, Personnel, Dock but nomenclature soon changed to Amphibious Transport Dock). The LPD was to accompany the new LPH (originally Landing ship, Personnel, Helicopter, soon changed to Amphibious Assault Ship). In the LPD design the existing LSD 28 class was modified with the well deck shortened to accommodate cargo (including vehicles) and about 980 Marines and with a permanent helicopter flight deck built above the well but no hangar. Three ships were built to the original SCB 187 design: RALEIGH (LPD 1) in Fiscal Year 1959, VANCOUVER (LPD 2) in FY 1960, and LA SALLE (LPD 3) in FY 1961. LA SALLE differed from the first two in being a flagship version (SCB 187A) with a second bridge for an amphibious squadron (phibron) commander inserted below the ship's navigating bridge. A second SCB 187A flagship was planned for FY 1962 but instead the basic design was lengthened with a 48-foot plug for additional troop and vehicle cargoes and the first three ships of the resulting AUSTIN (LPD 4/SCB 187B) class were funded in FY 1962. Of this lengthened class, LPD 7-13 (SCB 187C) were fitted like LA SALLE as phibron flagships with an extra bridge level.
As the only short-hulled LPD with flag facilities LA SALLE became a natural candidate for conversion to a full-time flagship after the 12 AUSTIN class ships came on line. On 11 January 1972 effective 1 July 1972 CNO changed the designation of the ship from LPD 3 to AGF 3 (retaining the LPD number) and she was converted at NSY Philadelphia into a flagship for Commander, Middle East Force. The conversion included addition of a narrow helicopter hangar (47.4' x 19.3') on the port side with the area between it and the starboard side covered by a permanent canopy for VIP receptions. It also included command and communication facilities and additional air conditioning. She relieved USS VALCOUR (AGF 1, ex AVP 55) as the permanent flagship for ComMidEastFor in the spring of 1972. While thus assigned she was painted white for both traditional and practical reasons. One of the AUSTIN class flagships, CORONADO (LPD 11), became AGF 11 on 1 October 1980 to allow LA SALLE to return to the U.S. for the first time in nine years for a lengthy overhaul at NSY Philadelphia. LA SALLE resumed duty as Middle East flagship at Bahrain on 16 June 1983 and continued this service until 1993. Then, reverting to a conventional gray paint scheme, she relieved BELKNAP (CG 26) as flagship for Commander, Sixth Fleet on 8 November 1994. At around this time her docking well was converted into office space, and in around 2002 her stern door was removed and the stern plated in. She was relieved in this role on 25 February 2005 at Gaeta, Italy, by MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC 20) and decommissioned and struck on 27 May 2005 upon her return to Norfolk.
|3||LA SALLE||FY 1961 as LPD 3. Ordered 8 Aug 1960. Sunk as a target 11 Apr 2007 off Pensacola, Fla., by USS WINSTON S CHURCHILL (DDG-81) during a missile exercise.|
Compiled: 4 Nov 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: Norman Friedman, U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft, (Annapolis, 2002).