Navy, Marine Corps Build New Sea-Basing Ships

Navy, Marine Corps Build New Sea-Basing Ships

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are preparing to take final delivery of the first of several new sea-basing platforms designed to increase forward presence and allow the services to operate without needing a pier, port or land-staging area, service officials said.

The Navy plans to build four new sea-basing ships to include two Mobile Landing Platforms, or MLPs, and two modified MLPs configured into what the Navy calls Afloat Forward Staging Bases, or AFSBs.

With a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan ending and the U.S. rebalancing to the vast waterways of the Pacific, the Navy and Marine Corps are examining their expeditionary strategy.  Officials have said they want to increase forward presence, improve amphibious equipment and provide new platforms for sea-basing air and maritime assets.

“We’re looking at this as being adaptive and creative,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh, director, expeditionary warfare division. “The effort is infused with a mind to how we can use platforms in new ways and increase the mission possibilities for these new ships.”

The Navy’s first Mobile Landing Platform, or MLP 1, recently completed contract trials and is slated for final delivery in March of next year. The MLP is a massive 80,000-ton, 785 foot-long commercial Alaska-class crude oil carrier configured to perform a range of military missions such as amphibious cargo on-load/off-load and logistics support.

The ship is engineered to ballast down and lower into the water. This allows three Landing Craft Air Cushion, or LCACs, lanes for amphibious loading and unloading as well as equipment transport. The MLP has as much as 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment storage space on deck, Walsh explained.

MLP 1, called the USNS Montford Point, was put under contract for construction by the Navy in April 2011, resulting in a  deal to General Dynamics owned National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, or NASSCO, in San Diego, Calif. MLP 1 is slated to cost $500 million, Navy officials said.

MLP 2, the USNS John Glenn, is now 96-percent complete and slated for delivery in March 2014. MLP 2, expected to cost $440 million, was also put on contract with NASSCO in April, 2011.

The MLPs can also connect to large cargo ships while at sea using a drivable ramp, allowing equipment to move from a cargo ship to the MLP for transport to shore.  Walsh explained that MLPs are designed to augment amphibious assault ships and help move large conventional forces from ship to shore – in the event they are needed.

The MLPs are designed to assist forward-positioned equipment and cargo ships called Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons.

“Now you can get stuff off the cargo ship and get the cargo onto the MLP. The LCACs can come onto the MLP and get the gear to shore. This gives you an amphibious landing capability,” said Walsh.

He said the MLPs and AFSBs can help free up Amphibious Ready Groups and Marine Expeditionary Units to perform other essential task.

“This is to create that ability to be on the scene first — whether that is building relationships, doing humanitarian assistance or being ready to scale up for major conventional operations,” Walsh added. “The Commandant and the [Chief of Naval Operations] asked the Naval board to look specifically at what are the assets out there and how can we use them more effectively to support and augment the amphibs that are already out there.”

MLP 3 is the first Afloat Forward Staging Base, or AFSB, which includes re-configured MLP with command and control technologies and a flight deck added on for maritime air operations.  The need for the AFSB emerged out of a requirement from Central Command for countermine and Special Operations Forces staging in the Persian Gulf area, Walsh said.

The AFSBs also house small, fast boats for various conventional and special operations missions as well.

An amphibious transport dock, the USS Ponce, is performing this mission now on an interim basis. The plan is for the AFSB to replace the USS Ponce when it is ready by the end of 2015. However, the first AFSB may wind up getting assigned somewhere else, depending up global demand, Walsh said.

A deal for MLP 3, called USNS Lewis B. Puller, was signed in Feb., 2012, Navy officials said. The Navy said the cost for MLP 3, which is now 36-percent complete, would be $623 million.

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Third world Navy stuff.

Actually most third world navies would be sort of embarrassed to be chopping up freighters for landing ships.

Feels like the return of a less audacious version of Sea Base from the ‘90s.

Bottleneck is still rapid delivery from however far away the Navy wants to kick things off from.

Sounds like a better deal than LCS, at least.

These ships will be put to good use in the not so distant future.

It’s not a landing ship. It’s a seaborne connector that allows off loading directly from prepositioning stock ships to various shore delivery systems. Pretty much an option no other navy has in the world actually.

oh didn’t your hear Guest, to make this ship work as hoped they have to develop a “LCAC landing “Module” and a “Freight Module” and a “Off-shore transfer module” and a “Ship to ship transfer module” and a.…..

all being build and coded by our good friends at Lockhead, no worries because they’ll be ready in 2047-they promise! ;-P

How come the article doesn’t mention that Congress has repeatedly refused to approve the modification the funding of the 3rd &4th MLPs to be built as AFSBs?

Another all our eggs in one basket solution. One hit and the invasion is over. Never mind.

These ships remind me of the MATES we used to have in Europe in the V & VIII corps days, only their ocean going. Properly used & deployed they give the USN & USMC great log. capability or combat equipment deployment in a snap! These ships are a def. combat multiplier!.….. Great idea good luck to their crews! They have weakness like the land MATES. They would be primary targets! They would require air, surface & sub-suface cover in the event of combat operations.

If the one hit is a tactical nuke maybe. There is no one weapon that’s going to hit a 35,000 ton double hulled vessel designed with multiple compartments designed to be flooded and drained, and sink it.

The pride revolves around it not being a military ship.

Just another outward and visible sign that the Forward Defense strategy is dead. So much easier that putting forward bases near the people you are supposed to protect and defend, or learning foreign languages like French. Pass the freedom fries, please.

Oh yeah? Ever see what an ADCAP does to a cruiser? Picks it up out of the water and puts it back down in two pieces. This thing will sink.

What makes you think they have to ‘sink’ the ship? The question isn’t what it will take to sink it, it’s what it will take to make it unable to accomplish it’s mission

break her keel and she will sink in two piexes

Time to renegotiate a 99 year lease on Subic Bay.

As the National VP for the Montford Point Marines it gives me great pride and pleasure to have established a renewed partnership with the members of the US Dept of the Navy, the US Marine Corps and the General Dynamic-NASSCO Team in the preservation of the Montford Point Marines legacy. Their storied past following Executive Order 8802 during (circa 1942), Awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal 2012, through today is a continumm of there legacy that working together works. Our challenge is to finalize this work with the building of the National Monument in their honor.

The Montford Point has been pretty completed for a while now, and the construction of these ships has been in the news long before it made it to DoD Buzz.

These sea-basing MLP’s are an interesting concept, but how well they will function in a contested environment remains to be seen. That said, it would’ve been interesting to see how well it functions during aid missions such as the recent typhoon recovery efforts in the Pacific.

A few potential problems with the design specs:
– These ships/platforms are only designed to operate in sea state 1. I would’ve thought a sea state 2 specification would be better, simply because the weather doesn’t always cooperate with your plans, and that would permit a wider range of usefulness/safety.
– The MLP’s don’t come (by default) with helicopter landing pads. However, given the wide-open reinforced deck, it wouldn’t be hard to add them later.
– There are no defensive weapons — however being a USNS maybe that isn’t a surprise.
– Outside of the crew required to operate this ship, there is no provision for additional quarters for when the ship is being used for its designed purpose. Maybe I’m off-base here, but it would seem that getting the ship from one place to another is one thing — but having it manned 24/7 and acting as a sea-base would require an expansion of the on-board crew.

Why would you want to sink it. Lets the marines struggle ashore and slaughter them at the waterline is the traditional method.

But lets not kid ourselves — these are operationally useless vessels. They are part of the marines imaginary amphibious landing plans which will never be used. By the time the marines are ready the army has already captured a port and an airfield and is streaming in. Making the marines as ever irrelevant to everyone apart from hollywood.

cant afford the price

The latest war-games show what sort of wars the marines are training to fight in the future — they invade some place fight their way to a few buildings secure them and then after 24 days the war is over. The enemy is not defeated, the marines do not evacuate there they are surrounded by the enemy and the war ends.

One person remarked that is because Cinderella turns into a pumpkin on the 25 day. LOL But the only plausible scenario is that they will fight for 24 days hoping for UN or Russian or Chinese intervention and peace deal and if they have to fight longer they will simply surrender.

Such a pre-plannned defeat meets all the requirements of Marine doctrine — it requires unique equipment, its makes for a gripping action movie, no President would ever authorize it and most importantly its the sort of plan no other service would be dumb enough to adopt.

Its just a matter of time before the marines adopt pre-battle decimation — I expect the requirement for it to use unique equipment is holding them up.

great idea for a forward area to deploy from and supply from. I would not want to be assigned to one due to the long sea duty that will be required. rotating crews would help. the USA needs to close all bases in Europe and get away from the expense of operating them. this type of unit could help that come true. maintaining a presence on eu. soil is pure waste of USA $$ and should have been stopped 50 years ago. if the balloon goes up in eu. those troops and equipt. are going to be like all the stuff in the PI at the start of WW2 “gone”

The MLP is an LCAC “mother ship.” Navy already has a mobile pier system, off-loaded from its MSC supply ships, for getting things from the supply ship to shore using slow moving barges. The MLP simply let’s the LCAC substitute for the smaller barge.

Nice capability, but the Navy hasn’t done anything needing this capability since Incheon. U.S. has not engaged in any major war or contingency operation without having sufficient time to position its entire supply ship fleet before combat action starts. MSC can move its entire fleet anywhere in the world within 45 days.

Plus, technology on fast ship-to-shore resupply is being provided part of the V-22 hybrid helo system, and the coming remote UAV system. So, it this a continuing justification for an out-dated, over-the-beach Marine Corps?

Now, as to its real utility, let FEMA use one the next time a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast.

Exactly!!! Just like Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, AFG, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Beirut, Panama, Grenada, Guadalcanal,New Guinea, new Britain on and on and on. Name ONE real life combat op that the Marines weren’t there first (with their gear, ammo, water,food and class 9). I thought so. Amphibious forces along with special forces are going to gain more missions and more budget. Big Army needs to “once again” reorganize.…and be serious about it. No more putting fences up around their Armored commands, and arty.…both needed but.…..the BCT approach has proven what is needed and works. Tanks and arty wont always do the job. You actually need people.……good people.

I as a Marine do know the truth about who goes where WHEN WE GET THERE,&who we greet when they arrive!!! WELCOME ARMY,we need a security detail could you get a special team in here,or does this damned JARHEAD again go it alone.We know that the gov. spends bucku bucks training army for(special deeds)with low cost to them.Don‘tdis the Marines until you have walked my walk

Pay attention all Marines, and Navy members. This WILL…in the end. Mean an END to port calls as well.
Nothing like being deployed for nine months, and maybe going home for six, then redeploying, all without ever seeing a friendly port of call for some Liberty, or R&R.
Wonder how many of you are looking forward to RE-ENLISTING…real, real, soon????

All the “eggs” in one basket. One torpedo, One air to surface missle, one giant storm removes the materials needed to support an invasion force of a division or less. Would be a good transport for relief in non-combat expeditions but not in a combat area where enemy forces would have the opportunity to destroy such large amounts of materials. Eastern African pirates would love to get their hjands on one of these loaded with military support goods.

This is another stupid concept. Vulnerable? Pick a weapon–gun, torpedo, missile, drone with missiles, etc. End of problem. Please tell me what beach we are going to invade in the future. Outdated concept only sustained by the Marine Corps trying to justify its out dated over the beach mission. The only thing more stupid than this is the LCS (Little Crappy Ship). The only mission for the amphip force now and in the future is being a Red Cross surrogate. Funny, but I don’t notice any other countries coming to our aid when we have disasters. As one General aptly put it ” We are stuck on stupid.”.

Since my age is from the Vietnam service era, I have gotten to know some of the Montford Point Marines, and I never felt as they were anything other than just another Marine to me. But maybe I am different?

The major issue is how the Marine Corps will do forced entry in the future. Add to this the need to do it in a near peer adversary environment. Budget issues have killed a new amphibious assault vehicle, but there must be a means of putting a force ashore anywhere in the world. During the early 60’s this was going to be ‘verticle envlopement using helocopters’ then someone found out how easy it is to shoot up a helocopter on approach. The same is true for the MV-22, faster yes, but still volnerable. LCACs can move at high speed and carry a 70 plus ton load and we have already paid for them. These sea basing platforms allow us to use this capability.

http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​M​V​_​A​t​l​a​n​t​i​c​_​C​o​n​v​e​yor it has been tried before.

Nice Targets.

LCACs don’t do force entry. They require a secured landing point, as they must deflate their skirts to offload. A timely process.

The Russian Zubr at least has guns…

The forced entry is supposed to be Marines in EFV’s (or whatnot) or drones spotting for TLAMs and Harpoon missiles, or gun-based fire support and air strikes.

When I was involved in this in the mid 80’s the idea was you fly the troops in to marry up with the ship/equipment at a location and ferry the troops back and forth from the billeting area.

It did take awhile but the 3rd ship is being built as an AFSB right now. I think, but don’t quote me, the 4th is now funded but it is pushed out to Fiscal 15.

It appears this concept would tie very nicely into the same scenario as the T-AVB (Aviation Logistics IMA support ship) used by Marine Aviation to transport it’s Mobile Intermediate Maintenance Vans. The T-AVB is the ideal sea basing concept for aviation because it has the capability to operate afloat and repair aviation equipment and components and also off-load the MF (mobile facility) vans and operate ashore ashore. The MLP’s may provide a more rapid capability to move the van complex ashore vice using the slow barges. The T-AVB’s (USNS Wright and the USNS Curtiss) initially proved their usefulness during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and subsequently have provided a unique support capability in other combat environments.



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