USNS Lewis B. Puller Departs San Diego for East Coast

Military Sealift Command ship USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) departed San Diego for its new home on the East Coast Aug. 12.

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Puller is the first Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) that features the afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant.   The ship is the third MLP of the series of four being built for MSC at NASSCO in San Diego. MLPs are highly flexible platforms that provide logistics movement from sea to shore supporting a broad range of military operations.   As an AFSB, Puller will support Aviation Mine Countermeasures, Special Operations missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.  The AFSB features include a large flight deck and hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E equivalent helicopters; berthing and messing accommodations; work spaces and ordnance storage for an up to 298 mission-related, embarked force; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) to support embarked force mission planning; and execution and reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs). A 34 member civilian mariner crew will operate and maintain the 764 foot ship.

“Being the Master of a brand new ship, and the first of its kind is a real honor,” said Capt. Brian Mershon, Puller’s civilian master. “This will be a long trip, so it will really give us the chance to see how this ship operated and sails in a variety of conditions. I’m really looking forward to getting underway.”

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Puller was christened February 7, 2015, and was delivered to MSC June 12, 2015. Prior to departing San Diego for the East Coast, the ship conducted a post-delivery shakedown cruise. During the cruise, the ship traveled to San Francisco, marking the first time the ship had sailed outside of the San Diego area. Puller is scheduled to arrive on the East Coast later this fall and is slated to replace USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15) currently operating with the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in 2016.

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