General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered the USNS Lewis B. Puller, the third ship in the U.S. Navy’s Mobile Landing Platform program and the first to be configured as Afloat Forward Staging Base.The USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3 AFSB) was delivered to the Navy in San Diego during a ceremony held last Friday at the NASSCO shipyard.
The Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) AFSB variant is optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions and further strengthens the Navy’s new seabasing capabilities, with an added flight deck, berthing, fuel storage, equipment storage, and repair spaces. The ship is named in honor of the late U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine and the only one to be awarded five Navy Crosses.
Construction on the USNS Lewis B. Puller began in 2013.
MLPs are highly flexible platforms that provide logistics movement from sea to shore in support of a broad range of military operations.
The AFSB variant is designed around four core capabilities: aviation, berthing, equipment staging area, and command and control. The ASFB modifications add a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. The ship is capable of supporting multiple missions including Air Mine Counter Measures (AMCM), counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and Marine Corps crisis response. The ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters, and will be upgraded to support MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
“This ship represents a leap forward in flexible capability for the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. “NASSCO was able to leverage a mature design and hot production line to meet the Navy’s requirements for an AFSB platform while minimizing program cost and risk.”
The U.S. Navy has awarded NASSCO a contract for the detail design and construction of a fourth Mobile Landing Platform, to be configured as another Afloat Forward Staging Base.
The MLP program comprises five ships across two variants in support of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) and an AFSB initiative. USNS Montford Point (MLP 1) and USNS John Glenn (MLP 2) were delivered and are currently serving in the U.S. Navy fleet. Construction on MLP 4 is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2015 and a fifth AFSB ship is planned for procurement in fiscal year 2017.