In September 2014 Italy delivered an 8,800 ton San Giorgio class aamphibious transport ship (LPD) to Algeria. The ship had been ordered in 2011 and has a floodable dock for landing craft and a flight deck for helicopters. There are also hospital facilities. The crew has been training in Italy since 2013. Most Algerians live along the coast and this ship would be useful for disaster relief as well as military uses.
The Algerian LPD is called the Kalaat Beni-Abbes and is armed with a 76mm cannon, Aster vertical launch anti-aircraft missiles (with a range up to 15 kilometers) and two remotely controlled 25mm autocannon. The dock in the rear has nine small landing craft. The flight deck can hold five medium (UH-1 size) helicopters. The vehicle/hanger deck (below the flight deck) can hold 15 armored vehicles and there are accommodations for 440 troops. The ship is operated by a crew of 150. The ship also has a small hospital with an operating room. Troop accommodations can be used to handle some patients as well as civilians in general. Fuel and other supplies allow the ship to stay at sea for 20 days at a time.
The San Giorgio class amphibious transport ship is one of the smaller LPD class ships. Italy has three of them, which entered service in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 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. The Algerians received an upgraded San Giorgio.
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.