Military Sealift Command has awarded the operating contract for two mobile landing platforms with the option for a third to Ocean Ships, Inc., bringing new jobs to the membership of American Maritime Officers aboard the new vessels pivotal to the Navy's sea-basing concept.
"AMO congratulates Ocean Ships on this contract award and we look forward to serving a central role in the operation of these new auxiliary support ships," said AMO National President Tom Bethel. "This contract award also serves as a powerful reflection of the importance of the dynamic positioning training program available to AMO members at STAR Center."
The first MLP, USNS Montford Point, is nearing completion at General Dynamics-NASSCO in San Diego, Calif. The vessel will serve in full operating status in the Western Pacific.
Designated T-MLP-1, the USNS Montford Point, is named in honor of African American Marine Corps recruits who trained at Camp Montford Point, N.C. from 1942 to 1949. The ship is scheduled to be christened in March 2013, and delivered to MSC in May 2013.
"This is a major step forward for us and AMO," said Jim McGregor, president of Ocean Ships, Inc. "It is a program that has both strategic and tactical importance to the Navy and the Marine Corps. I am very pleased with this award and look forward to working with Military Sealift Command and the AMO officers and SIU crews in the successful introduction of these special ships."
The keel has been laid at the shipyard for the second MLP, USNS John Glenn, which is scheduled for delivery in March 2014. The second MLP honors Col. John Glenn, a decorated Marine Corps pilot, distinguished astronaut, Congressional Space Medal of Honor recipient and U.S. senator. During his time with the Marine Corps, Glenn flew 59 combat missions during World War II and a combined 90 missions over the course of two tours in the Korean War. The second MLP is slated to serve in reduced operating status following a short operational period.
The third MLP would be named the USNS Lewis B. Puller in honor of Lt. Gen. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in history and the only one to be awarded five Navy Crosses.
The MLP is a new class of auxiliary support ship, scheduled to join MSC's Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF). These ships will be the centerpiece of the Navy's "sea base" concept, and will serve as a transfer point for Marine Corps amphibious landing forces between large ships and small landing craft. They will provide the capability to transfer vehicles and equipment at sea, improving the U.S. military's ability to deliver equipment and cargo from ship to shore when land bases do not exist.
The contract award has a firm period of 272 days, commencing Jan. 2, and includes five optional periods that would extend the operating contract beyond five years if all options are exercised.
The nucleus (NUC-1) crew is scheduled to go aboard the USNS Montford Point in early January 2013, with the NUC-2 crew going aboard eight weeks prior to delivery and the balance of officers and crew members joining the ship two weeks prior to delivery.
The NUC-1 crew for the USNS John Glenn is scheduled to go aboard the ship in October 2013.
American Maritime Officers will represent all licensed officers aboard the MLPs.