The San Giorgio class has a continuous deck and side island – looks like a Garibaldi or Tarawa type carrier, but smaller.
The types of amphibious warships capable of carrying aircraft are an area of increasing interest in many countries around the world. In the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of amphibious ships in European countries.
Although not as well known as Britain or French, the power of the Italian Navy cannot be underestimated. The force currently operates three 8,000-ton amphibious assault ships, the San Giorgio class.
The San Giorgio class of the Italian Navy, classified as Landing Platform Dock, also known as the Santi class, as its three units are named after the saints: San Giorgio, San Marco and San Giusto. They specialized in amphibious operations, replacing the Grado-class ships that were decommissioned in the late 1980s.
The Italian Navy is planning to replace the San Giorgio class with the Trieste class, a progressive version of this class. The LHD Trieste is scheduled to enter service in 2022.
Compared to today’s modern Landing Platform Dock, the San Giorgio class is quite small. Her full load displacement is 8,000 tons – the length is 133m (436 ft) and the beam is 20.5m (67 ft).
Compared to the Grado class – which were purely amphibious ships, the San Giorgio class represented a new concept, utilizing the support of their own helicopters. This platform provide roll-on / roll-off landing capability for land embarkation; air lift through the use off high capacity aircraft such as Chinook-type helicopters; and transportation by sea to shore, using the ship’s own systems and landing ships for landing on unprepared shores.
The San Giorgio class has a continuous deck and side island – looks like a Garibaldi or Tarawa type carrier, but smaller. The main flight deck, which runs almost the length of the ship, has four helicopter landing spots.
The slender straight bow was blended into the hull by a protuberance line for the hydrodynamic characteristics.
The superstructures form a single mass, located in the center of the hull, on starboard. It also houses a control station, a single funnel, and a small mast to support radars and telecom antennas.
Three davits on the main deck are provided for the deployment of three LCVP or MTP landing craft and a patrol boat.
The hull has a full layout of space for accommodation and living for the crew. The garage, consisting of a continuous deck, extends from the stern to the bow. The garage supports both wheeled and tracked vehicles, through the use of ramps and rear hatch. In the central part of the flight deck is a lift, allowing the transfer of vehicles between deck and garage.
There is a two-hook travelling crane, each hook rated to carry 40t, providing the capability of autonomous loading and unloading operations completely independently of harbour facilities.
The propulsion system, including two diesel engines Grandi Motori Trieste, delivered 8,400 hp each. Each engine is capable of driving two axes, with constant pitch propellers. There are also four diesel engine generators Grandi Motori Trieste, with 1,030 horsepower each.
San Giorgio can reach a top speed of 21 knots, a range of up to 7,500 nautical miles if maintained at 16 knots.
San Giorgio is operated by a crew of 150 sailors. A typical load would include a battalion of 350-400 personnel, plus 30-36 tracked armored personnel carriers or 30 medium tanks.
A total of two or three LCVPs can be carried. The stern floodable dock can accommodate three LCM landing craft, each capable of transporting 30t of material.
From 1999 to 2000, San Giorgio and San Marco were modernized, in which the 76mm MMI cannon and two port side davits for LCVP’s were removed. These modifications allowed the size of the flight deck to extend from the bow to the stern, where four helicopters could be operated at the same time. San Giorgio is capable of operating 3 Sea King SH-3D helicopters or 5 Agusta Bell AB-212 helicopters.
San Giorgio-class ships are equipped with a light weapon for self-defense. Armament includes an Oto Melara 76mm gun was installed on the gun deck at the bow of the ship, which removed from San Giorgio and San Marco to increase flight deck space, as mention above. The ship is also armed with two Oerlikon 20mm machine guns for close defence.
Sensor and Electronic systems
The electronic equipment was composed of SMA MM/SPQ 702 air search radar, GEM Elettronica navigation radar, and Selex ES RTN-10X fire control radar.
The ship’s electronic warfare system comprises of an electronic countermeasures and electronic support measures suite supplied by Elettronica of Rome.
The San Giorgio class, since commissioning, was stationed in Brindisi. In addition to normal training activities, the units also carry out humanitarian assistance activities. Since December 1992, San Giorgio and San Marco have joined the Ibis I and Ibis II missions in Somalia. In 1995, they joined the Ibis III mission to withdraw the UN peacekeeping force from Somalia.
In the summer of 2006, the Navy was among the first to intervene in the Lebanon crisis. The San Giorgio class ships carried tons of goods and food.
The ships of this class are also exceptionally versatile and can be used for disaster assistance operations. Desalination equipment, medical facilities, and helicopter support are available aboard. Their logistical flexibility makes them one of the best rescue vehicles to support civil operations.
In December 2014, San Giorgio participated in the Norman Atlantic ferry rescue operation, playing a decisive role in the success of the rescue operation.
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