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Construction of first-of-class Mobile Landing Platform gets underway

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July 4, 2011

An artist concept of a mobile landing platform (MLP) ship under construction (Image: U.S. ...

An artist concept of a mobile landing platform (MLP) ship under construction (Image: U.S. Navy photo illustration courtesy of NASSCO)

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The U.S. Navy has announced that construction has begun on the first of a new class of ship known as the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP). The MLP is designed to serve as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft and act as a floating base for amphibious operations to allow for equipment and cargo to be delivered from ship to shore when there are no friendly bases available.

The first-of-class MLP 1 is based on an existing design, the Alaska-class crude oil carrier, but the design has been modified as a float-on/float-off vessel with the ability to transfer vehicles and equipment at-sea and interface with surface connectors to deliver vehicles and equipment ashore. It will measure 837 ft (255 m) long, have a beam of 164 ft (50 m), a speed of over 15 knots, a range of 9,500 nautical miles, and accommodations for 34.

A sea exercise carried out in Jan. 2010 to demonstrate the transfer of vehicles between a ...

The platform has an open, reconfigurable mission deck that in its basic form possesses add-on modules that support a vehicle staging area, sideport ramp, large mooring fenders, U.S. Coast Guard certified flight deck, and up to three landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vessel lanes. The Navy says it also has the flexibility to incorporate potential future platform upgrades, which could include additional capabilities such as berthing, medical, command and control, mission planning, vehicle transfer system, a container handling crane and an aviation operating spot.

In August 2009, the MLP concept moved to a modified design and in August, 2010, the Naval Sea Systems Command awarded a US$115 million Advanced Design and Long Lead Time Material contract to General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) for the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) program. Construction commenced on June 30, 2011 at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California.

The U.S. Navy intends to procure and build a total of three MLPs with the first expected to be delivered in 2013 and be operational in 2015.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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10 Comments

seems like a waste of money. We designed the best jet fighter in the world. built it and tested it. Then decide not to make them. Then we spend money on this?? The point of an lander is to land on the beach while being supported by large ships and air. Why would you need a middle man. If the landing ships are out of range so is the air support. Seems stupid to me. One last thing this isn't the 1940s, what beach are we needing to storm? Most of our missions are covert. We should developing autonomous weapons systems and stealth.

Michael Mantion
5th July, 2011 @ 07:00 am PDT

Ummm, isn't this what the UK's Royal Navy have had for years and dubbed LSL (Landing Ship Logistics)?

Still, we're building huge aircraft carriers we'll never be able to use... Seems to be the trend these days. At least it keeps the likes of British Aerospace and their ilk in business...ooops, did I really say that out loud?! ;-))

Mike Hallett
5th July, 2011 @ 09:48 am PDT

It is very hard to predict which systems might be needed in an emergency. From my view we can no longer support the invade and hold mode of war as it is too expensive and will bankrupt any nation. I think we will move into a punitive form of war in which instead of invading we simply destroy part or all of a nation to make our point. For example if a nation fails to crack down on terrorists within their borders who attack our interests we simply wipe out a city and ask if they wish to become more friendly or would prefer more cities to vanish. We can win a war in seconds for the price of delivering one bomb. We end up with zero dead and zero wounded and the very last thing we want to do is offer aid to the nation that capitulates. The new idea of war will simply be punishment.

Jim Sadler
5th July, 2011 @ 10:03 am PDT

@Michael Mantion: I completely disagree. This type of ship is very much needed today. It isn't a "middle man" to get the landing craft to shore. The purpose of these ships isn't because the landing ships are out of range, it's "designed to serve as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft and act as a floating base for amphibious operations to allow for equipment and cargo to be delivered from ship to shore when there are no friendly bases available." These platforms will support the troops who are preparing for an attack or who have already made a successful attack. Not every mission can be solved by sending in a robot.

Gene Jordan
5th July, 2011 @ 10:12 am PDT

There is an axiom that military leaders are always preparing for the last war. We have to wonder it this is the case in this instance. There was a time during the nuclear submarine emphsis that the surface navy was considered obsolete. Anti submarine warfare has perhaps given some assurance, but as we saw in the Falklands it can't protect against missles.

This development may make some sense if there was some intention to reduce the number of military bases in a post peak oil and global warming world. Delivery by sea is more economical than flying troops and equipment to an undefined area with potential overflight options limited.

BreathontheWind
5th July, 2011 @ 12:18 pm PDT

@ Jim Sadler -

While I think you make a very good point in terms of efficiency, the massive human rights violations this would cause (Granted we currently do very similar) would be a major obstacle. I don't see where you get "Zero dead and zero wounded" from dropping a bomb either. Maybe if we were to launch a cyber attack, but even then in economic terms all things can be related back to each other and the time lost relates to a certain equality in lives lost, much like the time all Americans have lost thanks to the TSA. At any rate, your view actually makes some sense, and is somewhat logical - unfortunately that means it will not be adopted by the (US) military any time soon. Good Ole boys who play the game make it the top in the existing hierarchical structure, not logical ones. Point in case - Iraq, Afghanistan...

ichidos3
5th July, 2011 @ 02:01 pm PDT

hell, yeah, lets kill social security, medicare, public education and taxation for the rich and corporations and build a fleet of these very important additions to our military-backed international hegemony %u2026

hourglass
5th July, 2011 @ 05:24 pm PDT

My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.

George Washington

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.

George Washington

This class of ship is designed to reduce the need to take existing ports. This will save lives on both sides, by eliminating an "At all cost target."

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Killing unconstitutional government programs, and agencies is a good thing no matter how popular the agency is.

Slowburn
5th July, 2011 @ 11:52 pm PDT

There is an elephant in the room. The next war will be about food/water. Think about a world with no land. How do you fight the next war when the beaches have moved or are non existent? That you can interlink these ships together like lego blocks has other very serious implications for nations that could normally win by just holding out.

Hilary Albutt
6th July, 2011 @ 07:07 am PDT

Why does the U.S. Navy feel they need this craft! They used to have lots of places to go where the flags were hung out and the girls dressed up when the Yankee sailors docked.

Not any more. All over the world U.S. Navy ships are welcome in fewer and fewer places. Which is why they are trying to create their own floating, self contained, friendly ports.

The big question -at a time when multi-million dollar of extra expense on projects like this is most unwelcome- is why is it required?

Might U.S. foreign policy in the last twenty years have something to do with it. Why are there so few friendly ports???

Message to Uncle Sam: stop building junk like this and start making friends again.

Doug MacLeod
10th July, 2011 @ 06:52 am PDT
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