This month twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are in and around the Hawaiian Islands for the world’s largest international maritime exercise. The annual “Rim of the Pacific” exercise, or RIMPAC for short, gives the international community, the U.S. Navy included, the opportunity to build and sustain relationships as well as test out some new equipment.
On hand this year was the first of the U.S. Navy’s new Mobile Landing Platforms, USNS Montford point, which was delivered to Military Sealift Command in May 2013 from the General Dynamics-NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
The MLP is a new class of ship featuring a versatile platform for providing large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of light and heavy vehicles and equipment from sea to shore.
The 83,000 ton, 785-foot Montford Point leverages float-on/float-off technology, allowing the ship’s open deck to partially submerge, allowing easy movement of cargo and craft. Above, a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), aka hovercraft, transports Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicles onto the submerged deck of the ship.
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. MLP-1 has a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9500 nautical miles.
The ship is owned by U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and operated by a 34-person civilian-mariner crew under contract to MSC. The Navy plans to integrate an MLP into each of MSC’s Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons.
Easy on, easy off. These ships, together with a maritime prepositioning force (MPF), auxiliary dry cargo/ammunition ship (T-AKE) and legacy platforms, provide a first step in crafting the U.S. Navy’s future seabasing requirements. The second ship in the MLP-class, USNS John Glenn, was delivered to MSC in March 2014. The U.S. Navy has initiated the construction of a third ship to be built at NASSCO as a Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) variation to the MLP.
RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
Photos courtesy U.S. Navy/Military Sealift Command