General Dynamics NASSCO began construction on the fifth ship of the U.S. Navy’s expeditionary transfer dock (ESD)/expeditionary sea base (ESB) program on January 25.
The still unnamed fifth ESB ship will feature a a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel.
Serving as a ‘pier at sea,’ the 784-foot-long ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
NASSCO received a $106 million contract in June this year to procure long lead time material and engineering support for ESB 5 and a $324.4 million contract in December to definitize the long lead time material.
The first two ships, formerly classified as mobile landing platforms (MLPs), were designed and constructed by NASSCO to support vehicle staging and transfers, and the movement of LCAC vessels. In 2012, a third ship, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, formerly known as a MLP afloat forward staging base, to support a wide range of military operations. All three ships have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, and in October 2015, NASSCO began construction on ESB 4, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.