Mrs. Mills validated the keel laying by welding her initials into the ship’s structure. The steel plate with her initials will be permanently affixed to the ship’s keel, remaining with the vessel throughout its time in service.
Delivery of the first MLP ship is scheduled for May 2013. The 765-foot long ship will be used as staging areas for the Navy and Marines. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently announced that this first MLP ship will be named Montford Point, for the North Carolina facility where 20,000 African American Marines were trained over seven years, starting in 1942.
“In today’s challenging fiscal environment shipbuilder’s must continue to provide our Navy customer with competitive pricing and fair value,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “With the Mobile Landing Platform, NASSCO is meeting that challenge once again. The Navy and Marines will be getting a ship with significant capability at approximately one-third the cost of the Navy’s original plan.”
One initiative that NASSCO employed with this ship was to incorporate a “design-build” approach into all phases of design and planning development. The “design-build” approach included the assignment of the company’s most experienced shipbuilders within functional engineering and detail design teams. These teams played an important role in developing build strategy initiatives that are improving the ship’s readiness for construction, making MLP among the most producible designs in NASSCO’s history.
Once delivered to the fleet, MLP ships will join the three Maritime Prepositioning Force squadrons that are strategically located around the world to enable rapid response in a crisis. MLP vessels will change the way the Maritime Prepositioning Force operates, providing a “pier at sea,” that will become the core of the Navy/Marine Corps sea basing concept. This capability will allow prepositioning ships to offload equipment and supplies to the MLP for transshipment to shore by other vessels.