USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) is the lead ship of her class of landing ship dock of the United States Navy. This warship was named for the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which, because of the U.S. arsenal there, was an important location during the Civil War. USS Harpers Ferry is assigned to the Navy’s “Amphibious Group 1”. The homeport of Harpers Ferry is at San Diego County, California. Harpers Ferry was previously stationed at the American Naval Base in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan before she was relieved in 2011 by USS Germantown. Harpers Ferry’s keel was laid down on 15 April 1991, at the Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans. The ship was launched on 16 January 1993. The vessel was commissioned on 7 January 1995.
A dock landing ship (also called landing ship, dock or LSD) is an amphibious warfare ship with a well dock to transport and launch landing craft and amphibious vehicles. Some ships with well decks, such as the Soviet Ivan Rogov class, also have bow doors to enable them to deliver vehicles directly onto a beach (like a tank landing ship). Modern dock landing ships also operate helicopters. A ship with a well deck (docking well) can transfer cargo to landing craft in rougher seas than a ship that has to use cranes or a stern ramp. The US Navy hull classification symbol for a ship with a well deck depends on its facilities for aircraft – a (modern) LSD has a helicopter deck, a LPD also has a hangar, and a LHD or LHA has a full-length flight deck.