Designated T-MLP-1, the ship will be named USNS Montford Point, honoring African American Marine Corps recruits who trained at Camp Montford Point, N.C, from 1942 to 1949. The first of three MLPs planned for construction at NASSCO, Montford Point is scheduled to be christened in March 2013 and delivered to MSC in May 2013.
“This ship, and the others in its class, will be imperative to MSC’s role in supporting Navy and Marine Corps war fighters worldwide,” said Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, commander, Military Sealift Command. “It was exciting to witness this important milestone – getting MLP 1 into her element today brings us one step closer to being mission-ready in 2013,” he said.
The MLP is a new class of auxiliary support ship, scheduled to join MSCs Maritime Prepositioning Force. 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.
“The MLP class of ships will fill a critical role in enabling U.S. forces to be delivered safely and effectively around the world using mobile, sea-based strategies in areas where secure harbor facilities ashore are not readily available,” said Tim McCully, deputy commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific. “By remaining at sea as floating logistics support bases, these ships enhance the independence of U.S. forces to operate near global hot spots without entering their ports,” he said.
Unlike the traditional ship launch, the process for “un-docking” the 784-foot-long MLP is a slow, methodical and technical evolution. The launch consists 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 is 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.
MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.