Construction on the US Navy’s first mobile landing platform (MLP) ship has been marked by the keel laying at General Dynamics‘ (GD) NASSCO’s shipyard in San Diego, US.

GD NASSCO president Fred Harris said: "The navy and marines will be getting a ship with significant capability at approximately one-third the cost of the vavy’s original plan."

The 233m-long, 50m-wide MLPs with a deadweight in excess of 60,000t can cruise at a maximum speed of about 20kts and will be capable of carrying 1,112 marines, along with their equipment.

The ship will feature a reconfigurable mission deck, sideport ramp, large mooring fenders and a vehicle staging area to carry up to three air-cushioned landing craft vessels.

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By GlobalData

The MLP vessels are a new class of auxiliary support ship, designed to serve the navy / marine corps as a transfer station or floating pier at sea to deliver equipment and cargo from sea to shore or when access to friendly bases is denied. The flexible, modular platform will join the three maritime prepositioning force squadrons of the US Navy that are strategically placed worldwide to enable rapid response during disasters or a crisis, as well as reduce dependency on foreign ports.

NASSCO is already under a contract to build two MLP ships and a fully funded construction contract for the third MLP is expected to be awarded early this year, 2012.

Converteam was selected by GD to design and supply the ship’s integrated power systems, including electric power, tandem propulsion motors powered by variable frequency drives and vessel automation system. The first MLP will be named Montford Point and is scheduled for delivery in May 2013, though it is not expected to be operational until 2015.