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USNS Montford Point (MLP-1).

Construction on the US Navy’s third mobile landing platform (MLP) ship, the future USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3), has been marked with the keel laying by General Dynamics’ (GD) National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (Nassco).

Named to honour Lieutenant General Lewis B Puller, who was a distinguished combat veteran of World War II and the only one to be awarded five navy crosses, USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) will be the first MLP afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant.

General Dynamics NASSCO president Fred Harris said the MLP 3, configured as an AFSB, will offer the navy and marine corps’ maritime prepositioning force with significant new capability.

"The NASSCO team will continue to efficiently build and deliver these ships to help strengthen the forward presence of the navy," Harris said.

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A key element in the US Navy’s large-scale airborne mine countermeasure mission, the MLP AFSB is a flexible platform that will support special operations including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, amphibious, and other combat missions.

"It is named to honour Lieutenant General Lewis B Puller, who was a distinguished combat veteran of World War II."

Capable of accommodating a crew of 34 from Military Sealift Command (MSC), the 60,000t and 837ft-long MLPs can cruise at a maximum speed of 15k and have a range of 9500nm.

MLP 3 is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in the second quarter of 2015.

Separately, GD has received $18.2m contract modification from the US Navy to perform reactor-plant planning yard services for nuclear submarines and support-yard services for moored training ships.

Work under the contract, which has a total value of $121.2m through 2016 if all options are exercised, will be carried out in Groton and Charleston, South Carolina, US.

Image: aerial view of the USNS Montford Point (MLP-1). Photo: courtesy of NASSCO / General Dynamics Corporation.

Defence Technology