New jobs for SIU members are on the horizon following the December announcement that Seafarers-contracted Ocean Ships, Inc. has won the operating contract for three new mobile landing platform (MLP) vessels.
The ships are being built at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego; they are the USNS Montford Point, USNS John Glenn, and USNS Lewis B. Puller.
According to the government’s announcement of the agreement, each of the MLPs will be approximately 785 feet long and will be able to sail at 15 knots. They are expected to be deployed as prepositioning ships.
The Montford Point is scheduled for delivery in mid-May of 2013, followed by the John Glenn in early 2014 and the Lewis Puller in early 2015.
Including options, the Ocean Ships contract is for five years.
According to the U.S. Military Sealift Command, the new 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.”
NASSCO (a union shipyard) described the MLP as “a flexible platform that will provide capability for large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of vehicles and equipment from sea to shore. It will significantly reduce dependency on foreign ports and provide support in the absence of any port, making it especially useful during disaster response and for supporting Marines once they are ashore.”
The Montford Point is named for the North Carolina facility where 20,000 African American Marines were trained over seven years, starting in 1942.
One day before the contract announcement, NASSCO hosted a keel-laying ceremony for the second MLP, the John Glenn. Ms. Lyn Glenn, daughter of John Herschel Glenn, Jr., the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, and Mrs. Helen L. Toolan, wife of Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr., commanding general, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, were the honorees for the ceremony.
“Laying the keel of this second mobile landing platform and finishing construction of the first ship are the latest milestones in this successful shipbuilding program,” said Fred Harris, the shipyard president and himself a former union mariner. “These events serve as evidence of the NASSCO team building and delivering MLP ships efficiently, in support of U.S. Navy efforts to maintain a forward presence.”