MARCH 4, 2013 — General Dynamics NASSCO christened the U.S. Navy's newest ship, USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) at a ceremony held Saturday at its San Diego shipyard that was attended by more than 1,000 people. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was the ceremony's principal speaker. Alexis (Jackie) Bolden , wife of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, served as the ship's sponsor. She christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the vessel's hull.
Named in honor of Camp Montford Point, the Jacksonville, N.C., site where the first African-American Marines were trained, the USNS Montford Point is the first ship of three Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) vessels being designed and built by NASSCO.
"NASSCO delivers high-quality, mission-ready ships to the fleet and MLP 1 is no exception," said Fred Harris , president of General Dynamics NASSCO. "NASSCO's performance on the MLP program is a direct reflection of our design-build strategy. When MLP 1 construction began, 100 percent of the design was complete, nearly all the production planning was complete, and all the material to support production was in the pipeline. The result of this rigorous approach to shipbuilding is a high-quality, affordable vessel that was 91 percent complete at undocking and now more than 97 percent complete at christening. MLP 1 is on track to be delivered under budget and on-schedule."
"Thanks to the efforts of the Navy and NASSCO team, the MLP Class provides a model for success. Industry and the Navy must continue to work hand-in-hand to seek low-cost, affordable solutions," Mr. Harris said.
Owned and operated by Military Sealift Command, USNS Montford Point is the first ship of the Montford Point Class (T-MLP). MLP ships will serve as a floating base for amphibious operations, and operate as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft. Following its at-sea testing phase, USNS Montford Point will be delivered by the shipbuilder in the second quarter of 2013.
Right: Artistic rendering of completed MLP
Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, delivered the ceremony's principal address and Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, commander of MSC, also spoke on behalf of the ship and crew.
"This ship, with its unique capabilities, will become the centerpiece of sea-basing, allowing the U.S. Navy to raise forward-operations to a new level," said Admiral Buzby.
"Wherever the call, whatever the need, USNS Montford Point will be part of the Navy's global force for good," he said.
The first of three MLPs being built for MSC by NASSCO, Montford Point will join MSC's Maritime Prepositioning Force as a seagoing pier in the event that accessibility to onshore bases is denied.
The MLP is the corner stone of the Navy's sea-base concept, serving as a transfer point for a Marine Corps amphibious landing force between large ships and ship-to-shore landing craft. The ship also provides the ability to transfer vehicles and equipment at sea while interfacing with surface connectors to deliver the vehicles and equipment ashore, improving the Navy's ability to deliver equipment and cargo from offshore to an amphibious objective.
Its flexibility is critical for humanitarian response to natural disasters and for support to warfighters ashore. The size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage. A crew of 34 civilian mariners employed by MSC will operate the ship once delivered to the fleet.
"I salute the ship's first master, Capt. Kurt Kleinschmidt, his chief engineer, Bill Maus, and the rest of the U.S. Merchant Marine crew," said AdmirAL Buzby. "Their determination will stand this ship and its mission in good stead as they sail anywhere on the globe that the mission sends them," he said.