The US Navy has awarded a contract to General Dynamics to work on the Navy's mobile landing platform programme.
The MLP is a 34,544mt displacement carrier for landing craft air cushion (LCAC) that also serves as a staging position for performing some of the assembly of forces.
The 250m-long ship would be a troop carrier capable of carrying 1,112 marines along with their equipment before being transported ashore on LCACs or via aviation assets.
The ships can cruise at a maximum speed of about 20 knots.
Work under the $7m contract will be carried out at National Steel and Shipbuilding in San Diego and several other locations across the US and is expected to be complete by May 2010.
The contract has been awarded by the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.