The Newport-class Tank Landing Ships are larger and faster than earlier LSTs, and represent a complete departure from the previous concept of Amphibious Tank Landing Ships.
The traditional bow doors, which have characterized LST’s construction since the first vessels of this type were built during World War II, were replaced by a 40-ton bow ramp supported by two distinctive derrick arms. The hull form necessary for the attainment of the 20-knot speeds of contemporary amphibious squadrons would not permit bow doors.
The conventional flat bottom hull was redesigned to include a destroyer-type bow enabling the ships to attain speeds in excess of 20 knots. This feature enables her to operate with modern high-speed amphibious forces. A stern gate also makes possible off-loading amphibious vehicles directly into the water.
The Tank Landing Ship (LST) mission is to load and transport cargo, vehicles of all types, and troops to a combat area. These ships can launch amphibious vehicles via a stern gate as well as land vehicles to a beach or causeway over a bowramp. Troops and equipment can also be transported via helicopter. Two ten-ton booms offload cargo to boats or a pier. Bristol County’s lift capacity included 29 tanks and over 350 troops and their equipment.
In addition to its vehicular square capacity, the LST is the only assault platform capable of employing the Amphibious Assault Bulk Fuel System (AABFS). The delivery of fuel ashore is a critical aspect of an amphibious operation, which makes the capability of the LST unique.
Bristol County is the last ship of the twenty ship Newport tank landing ship class. Amphibious vehicles can be launched from the tank deck via the ship’s stern gate and the ship’s flight deck can accommodate most Navy helicopter types.
General Characteristics: Awarded: July 15, 1966
Keel laid: February 13, 1971
Launched: December 4, 1971
Commissioned: August 5, 1972
Decommissioned: July 29, 1994
Builder: National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, Calif.
Propulsion system: 6 diesels; 16,000 horsepower; bow thruster
Propellers: two and one bow thruster screw
Length: 522 feet (159 meters)
Length over derrick arms: 561 feet (171 meters)
Beam: 70 feet (21.2 meters)
Draft: 17,4 feet (5.3 meters)
Displacement: approx. 8500 tons
Speed: 20 knots
Aircraft: helicopter platform only
Armament: one 20mm Phalanx CIWS, 4 3-inch/.50-caliber guns
Crew: 14 officers, 210 enlisted and approx. 350 embarked troops