General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) has been awarded a $744,129,956 contract from the Navy for the detail design and construction of two Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships, MLP 1 and MLP 2.
The fixed-price incentive fee type contract follows the $115 million contract for long-lead time material and advanced design efforts for the first MLP, previously awarded to NASSCO in August 2010.
MLP 1 will be the first-of-class large heavy lift ship with float on/float off (FLO/FLO) capability. The MLP is seen as having the potential to be a “universal interface” for Navy and Army ships and small craft to support the Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons.
Based on commercial technology, the MLP will enable the transfer of equipment, personnel, and sustainment at-sea, and delivery ashore in support of a wide range of contingency operations. “Our FY 2012 budget requests funding for one MLP and we intend to procure a total of three MLPs,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead in congressional testimony earlier this year. “We expect the first ship to deliver in FY 2013 and project initial operating capability and incorporation into the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) for 2015.”
According to Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson, the Navy worked very closely with NASSCO to identify cost savings early in MLP design work while pursuing a concurrent design and production engineering approach. “These efforts ensured a high degree of design and production-planning maturity prior to the start of construction to minimize cost and schedule risk and resulted in a very stable ship design that is ready to start production.”
“This contract award culminates a substantial effort to drive down cost in our shipbuilding programs while delivering necessary capabilities,” said Program Manager Capt. George Sutton. “As Assistant Secretary of the Navy [for Research, Development and Acquisition] Sean Stackley recently testified, actions by NASSCO, Congress and the Navy to accelerate the MLP program significantly improved affordability.”
“The Navy recognizes the need to provide for at-sea transfer of personnel and equipment from a cargo ship and to provide an interface with Landing Craft Air-Cushioned (LCAC) vessels, both key capabilities the MPF(F) program was to provide,” Stackley said in testimony in March of this year. “To fulfill this capability, the Navy will procure three MLPs.”
MLP will provide the core capabilities to transfer vehicles and equipment at-sea and interface with surface connectors to deliver the vehicles and equipment ashore. “The MLP will leverage float-on/float-off technology and a reconfigurable mission deck to maximize capability,” Johnson said. “The platform in its basic form possesses add-on modules that support a vehicle staging area, sideport ramp, large mooring fenders and up to three Landing Craft Air Cushioned vessel (LCAC) lanes to support its two core requirements. Ship utility services support to the mission deck will enable 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 connected replenishment, a container handling crane and an aviation operating spot.”