August 24, 2011: Algeria has ordered a San Giorgio class amphibious transport ship (LPD) from Italy. This is one of the smaller LPD class ships. The San Giorgio class ships are 133 meters (435 feet) long and displace only 8,000 tons, while most other LPDs are 20,000 tons or larger. The San Giorgio sacrifices many things (vehicle, helicopter and landing ship capacity) but they can still carry a small (400 men) battalion of troops, 36 vehicles, six landing craft (in a well in the rear of the ship) and up to six helicopters. Armament consists of two 25mm autocannon.
By way of comparison, the Chinese Type 071 class LPDs is 210 meters (689 foot) long and displaces 20,000 tons. The Chinese ship can carry some more troops (up to 800) and helicopters, but the same number of landing craft and vehicles. Armament consists of a 76mm gun, four 30mm anti-missile autocannon and four 18 tube decoy/chaff dispensers (for anti-missile work). The big difference is that the San Giorgios are cramped, have less space for supplies and are not really suitable for long range work.
The 071 class ships are similar to the American 25,000 ton San Antonio class or the French 21,500 ton Mistral class. The 071's have the smallest crew (120), compared to 180 in the Mistral and San Giorgio and 396 for the San Antonio. The three existing San Giorgios were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s and serve in the Italian Navy. There are plans to replace the San Giorgios with a new class of 20,000 ton ships.