Jan. 26 (UPI) -- General Dynamics NASSCO has began constructing the fifth Expeditionary Transfer Dock for the U.S. Navy.
Expeditionary Transfer Docks, formerly known as Mobile Landing Platforms, are flexible ships designed to provide staging areas for smaller vessels and maritime aircraft. The newest ESB will be comprised of a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, repair spaces, equipment storage, and other utilities.
Once completed, the Navy will be able to use the platform for landing a variety of aircraft for sea-to-shore operations, including MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
The new ship, designated ESB 5, is the fifth Expeditionary Transfer Dock to be added to the Navy's fleet. The branch's initial contract with the company called for only two platforms. NASSCO began construction of the fourth ship in October 2015.
So far, the Navy has received three vessels, including the USNS Lewis B. Puller, the USNS Montford Point, and USNS John Glenn.
The first two vessels, Montford Point and John Glenn, have been configured with the core capability set, which includes add-on modules and a vehicle staging area. The ships have a range of 9,500 nautical miles, a sustained speed of 15 knots, and weigh approximately 80,000 tons.