The U.S. Navy says it has awarded General Dynamics NASSCO a $128.5 million contract for the detail design and construction of a previously announced variant to the Mobile Landing Platform.
Under the terms of the contract, NASSCO will provide the detail design and construction efforts to convert the MLP 3 to a Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) variant. The vessel, which is to be named USNS Lewis B. Puller after the most decorated U.S. Marine in history, will be the first of two ships of the MLP class to be configured as an AFSB and the first dedicated AFSB in the U.S. Navy fleet.
The work will be performed at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard and scheduled to be completed by October 2015. The kiel for MLP 3 was laid in November 2013 at NASSCO.
“This third Mobile Landing Platform ship, configured as an AFSB, will provide significant new capability to the Navy and Marine Corps’ Maritime Prepositioning Force,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO, at the kiel laying ceremony. “The NASSCO team will continue to efficiently build and deliver these ships to help strengthen the forward presence of the Navy.”
The MLP AFSB is described as a flexible platform and a key element in the Navy’s large-scale airborne mine countermeasure mission. The ship is designed to facilitate a wide variety of future mission sets in support of special operations, with accommodations for 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck.
The contract award follows the recent delivery of MLP 2, USNS John Glenn, in March and MLP 1, USNS Montford Point, in May 2013.
USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-1/AFSB-1) will eventually replace the USS Ponce, currently on patrol in the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.
Both the MLPs and two planned AFSBs will be operated by the Military Sealift Command.