Military Sealift Command’s first Mobile Landing Platform ship completed its float out operation from a dry-dock at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Nov. 13.
T-MLP-1 as it is known, will be named USNS Montford Point when it is christened in March, honoring African American Marine Corps recruits who trained at Camp Montford Point, N.C, from 1942 to 1949.
The MLP is a new class of auxiliary support ship, scheduled to join MSC’s Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF). These ships will be the centerpiece of the Navy’s “Sea Base” concept, and will serve as a transfer point for Marine Corps amphibious landing forces between large ships and small landing craft. They will provide the capability to transfer vehicles and equipment at-sea, improving the U.S. military’s ability to deliver equipment and cargo from ship to shore when land bases do not exist.
Unlike the traditional ship launch, the process for “un-docking” the 784-foot-long MLP was a slow, methodical and technical evolution that took about 30 hours. The un-docking consisted of slowly flooding the building dock, stopping the flooding, balancing the ship, inspecting the ship, and then balancing it again before continuing the flooding. The sequence was repeated several times until the ship is level to the water outside the dry dock, then completed by pulling the ship from the building dock and moving it pier side with tug boats.