Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3) float-off. Photo credit: NASSCO
The future USNS Lewis B. Puller, the third ship in the U.S. Navy’s new Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) class, was launched into San Diego Bay last week at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard.
Lewis B. Puller is the first Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) variant of the MLP-class, bringing the U.S. Navy’s seabasing dreams to reality. The ship is designed to perform core capabilities for the fleet, including aviation, logistics, and command and control. It is optimized to support a variety of maritime missions.
“The maturity and stability of the Mobile Landing Platform shipbuilding program has allowed for the smooth transition to the afloat forward staging base variant,” said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. “Even with the design changes to accommodate the increased capability, this ship is on track deliver on cost and on schedule.”
The design of the AFSB variant adds a flight deck, berthing, fuel storage, equipment storage, and repair spaces to the MLP hull. With a rotating crew of civilian mariners and military personnel, the ship can operate forward almost continuously, providing a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security, and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
During the float-off, the launching dock was flooded with water until the ship could freely float for the first time. Following launch, the ship will complete its construction and then go to sea in 2015 to complete a sea trials. The Lewis B. Puller is expected to be delivered to Military Sealift Command in 2015.
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