SAN DIEGO -- General Dynamics NASSCO held a keel laying ceremony for the future USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), Dec. 4, in San Diego, Calif.
MLP 2 is the second ship in the Mobile Landing Platform program that will provide the Navy with the capability to transfer vehicles and equipment at sea and to interface with surface connectors to deliver the vehicles and equipment ashore.
The ship's name honors the Hon. John Glenn, a decorated Marine Corps pilot, who was in attendance for the ceremony. A distinguished astronaut, the first American to orbit the Earth and a former U.S. Senator from Ohio, Glenn flew 59 combat missions during his service with the Marine Corps in World War II, and a combined 90 missions over the course of two tours in the Korean War.
"It is fitting that this ship is named in honor of a transformative figure like Senator John Glenn," said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "MLP will be the centerpiece of the Navy's seabasing capability and transform how the Navy and Marine Corps team operates from the sea."
Keel laying recognizes the first joining together of a ship's components. While modern shipbuilding processes allow fabrication of individual modules to begin months earlier, keel laying represents the formal beginning of a ship. The keel was co-authenticated by Lyn Glenn, ship's sponsor, and Helen Toolan, spouse of Lieutenant General John A. Toolan, Jr., USMC, Commanding General I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Acting as a mobile seabase, MLP will be part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to provide prepositioned equipment and supplies with flexible distribution. MLPs are based on an existing commercial NASSCO design, the Alaska-class crude oil carrier, ensuring design stability and lower development costs. MLP will have a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9500 nautical miles. At 837 feet long, MLP displaces over 80,000 tons when loaded. The ship with its modular core capability set includes a 25,000 sq. ft. raised vehicle deck, side-port ramp, large mooring fenders, and berths for up to three Landing Craft Air Cushioned vessels (LCAC).
These ships serve as a highly flexible, modular platform that may be used across a broad range of military operations, including humanitarian support and sustainment of traditional military missions. They will operate within Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons to The ability to establish support facilities at sea assures U.S. military forces access to areas previously denied.
The USNS Montford Point (MLP 1), lead ship of the class, launched Nov. 13. MLP 2 is expected to launch and be christened in Fall 2013. The contract for the third ship, the future USNS Lewis Puller, was awarded to NASSCO in February 2012.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.