The first ship of the Navy’s new Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) class launched Nov. 13, less than two years since the start of fabrication at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
Designed to provide logistics movement from sea to shore, the new class of ships will provide the Navy with a dedicated seabasing capability.
The future USNS Montford Point (MLP 1) will be the lead ship of the class. The name honors the African American Marines who trained at the Montford Point, N.C., facility during World War II and prompted President Harry Truman to sign an executive order ending segregation in the U.S. military.
Thought of as a “pier in the ocean,” the capabilities provided by the MLP class will serve as the centerpiece of the Navy’s seabasing strategy. The ships will operate within Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons to provide the Navy with the capability to transfer vehicles and equipment at sea and to interface with surface connectors to deliver the vehicles and equipment ashore. The ability to establish support facilities at sea assures U.S. military forces access to areas previously denied.
Using the commercially designed Alaska-class crude oil carrier as its base, the Navy’s Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Office (PMS 385) worked in conjunction with NASSCO to develop a design that supported the Navy’s core capabilities while maintaining low costs.
“Working in partnership with NASSCO early in the design phase allowed us to execute an aggressive construction schedule that has stayed under budget,” said Capt. Henry Stevens, PMS 385 program manager. Even working from a preexisting design, the low rework rates have been remarkable for a first-in-class ship.”
The ship will leverage float-on/float-off technology, which will allow the ship to be partially submerged facilitating easy movement of cargo and craft. Additionally, the ship’s size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.
With this set of capabilities, the ship will be able to easily transfer personnel and vehicles from other vessels such as the large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSRs) onto landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles and transport them ashore. The MLP capability will serve as an important flexible and transformational asset to the Navy as it can be reconfigured to support a wide variety of future operations.
MLPs will have a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9,500 nautical miles. At 785 feet long, MLPs displace over 80,000 tons when fully loaded. MLPs will operate with a crew of 34 Military Sealift Command personnel.
Montford Point will be christened in the spring by Jackie Bolden, the wife of current NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden. The ship is expected to be fully operational by fiscal year 2015.
NASSCO is also under contract for the construction of the future USNS John Glenn (MLP 2) and the future USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3). Both ships recognize decorated U.S. Marine Corps veterans.