The US Navy is set to christen the third mobile landing platform (MLP) ship on 7 February at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard.

USNS Lewis B. Puller is named in honour of lieutenant general Lewis "Chesty" Puller, who was awarded five navy crosses.

The vessel, which is the first MLP afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant for the navy, is designed to support special operations including airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM), humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, amphibious and other combat missions.

"Upon being commissioned, it scheduled for deployment to the Gulf theatre to replace USS Ponce."

The 837ft-long MLP ships can cruise at a maximum speed of 15k and have a range of 9500nm. They can accommodate a crew of 34 from military sealift command and weigh 60,000t.

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By GlobalData

USNS Lewis B. Puller completed launch and float-off at the NASSCO yard last year and will undergo sea trials before being delivered later this year.

Upon being commissioned, it scheduled for deployment to the Gulf theatre to replace USS Ponce, which is the current temporary AFSB operating in the region.

With a capacity to accommodate 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck, the MLP AFSB is a capable and affordable asset for the navy and US Marine Corps.

NASSCO started construction of USNS Lewis B. Puller in February 2014 and in March a $128.5m contract was awarded for detail design and construction efforts to transform it to an AFSB variant.