SAN DIEGO, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The keel of the U.S. Navy's first mobile landing platform ship was laid by General Dynamics NASSCO during a ceremony attended by Navy and company officials.
The ship is a logistics vessel for the transport of equipment and vehicles to shore. With a vehicle staging area, large mooring fenders and sideport ramp, as well as lanes for landing craft air-cushioned vessels, the craft is planned to help mitigate the lack of port facilities or total dependence on them for unloading supplies for troops on the ground or in humanitarian disaster-response scenarios.
In effect, it will be a pier at sea.
"The keel laying is a major milestone for the Montford Point and the MLP class," said U.S. Navy Capt. Henry Stevens, strategic sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "The MLP program is benefiting from the Navy/NASSCO team's high level of design and production-planning maturity."
The 765-foot-long MLP Montford Point is scheduled for delivery to the Navy next year. Once operational, MLP ships will join the Navy's Maritime Prepositioning Force squadrons located around the world and enable rapid response in crisis situations.
"In today's challenging fiscal environment, shipbuilders must continue to provide our Navy customer with competitive pricing and fair value," said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. "With the Mobile Landing Platform, NASSCO is meeting that challenge once again.
"The Navy and Marines will be getting a ship with significant capability at approximately one-third the cost of the Navy's original plan."