MLP: Readying for service

The following blog is written by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, MSC. Our Navy accepted delivery of its first-ever mobile landing platform, USNS Montford Point (MLP 1), from General Dynamics-NASSCO May 14. The June shakedown was successful, and once fitting out activities are finished at the shipyard, this ship will be berthed in Washington State. Shannon explains some of the unique capabilities of this prepositioning ship class and its afloat-forward-staging-base variant.

RADM Shannon speaks with Chief Engineer Joseph Semon (foreground) during a July visit to another unique ship, one of the Navy's new joint high-speed vessels.

Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon speaks with Chief Engineer Joseph Semon (foreground) during a July visit to another unique ship, one of the Navy’s new joint high-speed vessels.

Operating new ships that support our Navy and warfighters around the world is one of the best aspects about being a commander. USNS Montford Point (MLP 1) is no exception. MSC took ownership on May 14. Our June shakedown cruise was successful, and we’re shifting Montford Point’s berth to Naval Station Everett in Washington State.

The next major step is installing the mission core capabilities equipment and systems. This fall, workers from Vigor Marine will install a 25,000 square foot raised vehicle deck, a vehicle transfer ramp, and three Landing Craft, Air Cushioned docking lanes and service connections for fuel, water and air on the large mission deck of Montford Point.

In 2014, Montford Point begins an intensive mission work-up for Operational Test and Evaluation. At the conclusion of this introduction period, Montford Point achieves initial operating capability and deploys to MPS Squadron Two in early fiscal year 2015.

Ocean Ships, Inc. operates Montford Point for our Navy, with officers and unlicensed U.S. Merchant Marine personnel affiliated with American Maritime Officers Union and Seafarer’s International Union. The ship provides a highly flexible platform for logistics movements from sea to shore for a wide range of military operations. The reconfigurable vehicle deck can be removed to allow Montford Point to leverage float-on/float-off technology to transport military craft and ships.

As a U.S. Pacific Command asset, Montford Point will be available to support operations in that part of the world – a critical asset as we rebalance toward the Pacific.

Montford Point also serves as a floating dock/pier at sea when shoreside facilities are not capable, or not available, supporting transfer of equipment and cargo at sea in up to four-foot waves. We’ll undoubtedly find other new uses for this new vessel as operational strategies evolve and other organizations recognize the capabilities of this unique and capable platform.

Montford Point and its sister ship, USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), which is expected to deliver to our Navy in March 2014, are the mobile landing platform variations of the three ships under contract. The third MLP, USNS Lewis Puller, is an Afloat Forward Staging Base variant.

As I mentioned earlier, operating new ships for our Navy is one of the truly exciting aspects of this job. Talking about it makes me want to get some deck plates and blue water under my feet. Two months at the helm of MSC now, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team. It is an honor to serve alongside you!

T.K. Shannon

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, Military Sealift Command

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