The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO) a $34.5 million contract for the post shakedown availability of USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3).
During the maintenance works, NASSCO will also upgrade the ship to allow it to support special operations forces.
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Muehlbauer, Puller’s military crew officer-in-charge, said in June this year that the 2015-commissioned expeditionary mobile base would undergo upgrades and modifications prior to being permanently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in 2017.
“The Puller is going to receive an upgrade which will enable special operations forces (SOF) to utilize the ship for operations,” Muehlbauer said at the time. “The Puller will be able to support maritime interdictions, operations potentially in-country, and different adaptive military packages to perform different types of SOF contingencies throughout the world.”
USNS Lewis B. Puller will be overhauled in Norfolk, Virginia and the wok is expected to be completed by April 2017.
Lewis B. Puller is the first of three modified expeditionary mobile bases that were previously referred to as afloat forward staging bases. Construction of the second of three ships, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB-4), started in August this year while construction start for T-ESB-5 is planned for FY2017.