The Navy will christen the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) Montford Point March 2, during a 10 a.m. PST ceremony in San Diego, Calif.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Jim Amos will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Alexis “Jackie” Bolden, the wife of current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will serve as the ship’s sponsor.
USNS Montford Point (T-MLP 1) is named for the approximately 20,000 African-American Marine Corps recruits who trained at the North Carolina facility from 1942 to 1949. Their exceptional service prompted President Truman to sign an executive order in 1948 disallowing segregation in the Marine Corps. These 20,000 Marines were recently recognized with our nation’s highest civilian honor for distinguished achievement, the Congressional Gold Medal.
“I chose to name the department’s new MLP Montford Point as a way to give some long-overdue recognition to these proud Americans who gave so much in the defense of our nation,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “The courage shown by these Marines helped forge the Corps into the most formidable expeditionary force in the world.”
The MLP is a highly flexible platform that will provide capability for large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of vehicles and equipment from sea to shore. It will significantly reduce dependency on foreign ports and provide support in the absence of any port, making an MLP especially useful during disaster response and for supporting Marines once they are ashore.
The ship will leverage float-on/float-off technology, allowing Montford Point to partially submerge, facilitating easy movement of cargo and craft. Additionally, the ship’s size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.
With this set of capabilities, the ship is able to easily transfer personnel and vehicles from other vessels such as the large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSRs) onto landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles and transport them ashore. The platform with its open, reconfigurable mission deck will serve as an important flexible and transformational asset to the Navy as it can be reconfigured to support a wide variety of future operations.
MLPs will have a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9,500 nautical miles. At 785 feet long, MLPs displace more than 80,000 tons when fully loaded. MLPs will operate with a crew of 34 Military Sealift Command personnel.
MLP 1 was constructed by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., (NASSCO) in San Diego, Calif. Owned and operated by Military Sealift Command, Montford Point will be the first ship in its class. The ship is expected to be delivered to the Navy in fiscal 2013 and be operational in fiscal 2015.
Naval Today Staff, March 1, 2013; Image: US Navy