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US Navy's Whidbey Island class LSD Gunston Hall visits Estonia.

| 2022

According to information published by the U.S. DoD on August 8, 2022, the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) enters port in Tallinn, Estonia for a scheduled port visit.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (Picture source: U.S. DoD)

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship is a dock landing ship of the United States Navy. Introduced to fleet service in 1985, this class of ship features a large well deck for the transport of United States Marine Corps (USMC) vehicles and a large flight deck for the landing of helicopters or V-22 Ospreys.

The well deck was designed to hold four LCAC hovercraft, five if the vehicle ramp is raised, for landing Marines. Recent deployments have instead filled the well deck with a combination of LCU(s), AAVs, Tanks, LARCs, and other USMC vehicles and gear.

The Whidbey Island class of the ship also uniquely benefits from multiple cranes and a shallow draft that further make it ideal for participating in amphibious operations.

As of 2009, all ships of the class are scheduled to undergo a midlife upgrade over the next five years to ensure that they remain in service through to 2038.

The ships will be upgraded each year through 2013, and the last ship will be modernized in 2014. Ships homeported on the East Coast will undergo upgrades at Metro Machine Corp., while those on the West Coast will receive upgrades at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego.

Major elements of the upgrade package include diesel engine improvements, fuel, and maintenance savings systems, engineering control systems, increased air conditioning and chill water capacity, and replacement of air compressors. The ships also replaced steam systems with all-electric functionality that will decrease maintenance effort and expense.

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship is powered by four 4 Colt Industries 16-cylinder diesel engines which provide 33,000 shp. (25,000 kW) to two shafts. The ship can reach a top speed of 20 knots. (37 km/h; 23 mph).

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship is armed with two 25 mm Mk 38 automatic cannons, two 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Close-In Weapon Systems mounts two Rolling Airframe Missile, and six .50 caliber M2HB machine guns.

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