General Dynamics Corp.’s NASSCO shipbuilding subsidiary has earned a U.S. Navy contract to build a modified version of its Mobile Landing Platform, which fully funds the first of two ships in the new class. The contract also includes an option to build a third ship of the new design, which would be done at the increased cost of $1.3 billion.
The new ship will be built at General Dynamics’ Nassco shipyard in San Diego, reportedly ending plans for extensive layoffs at that operation. Construction will start immediately. The ship is scheduled for delivery early in 2013.
The new Mobile Landing Platform ship is a 765-feet-long by 164-feet-wide vessel that is described as a “pier at sea”; its purpose is to function as a station for offloading equipment and supplies to other ships at locations around the world, specifically for U.S. military forces to preposition forces.
The MLPs “will change the way the Maritime Prepositioning Force operates,” according to Nassco, and will be central the Navy and Marine Corps’ sea basing concept. "With the Mobile Landing Platform Program, Nassco will continue our tradition of building high-quality ships for the U.S. Navy," stated General Dynamics Nassco’s president, Fred Harris. "The first MLP ship will start production with more design, engineering and planning work complete than any ship that Nassco has constructed since World War II."
In March Nassco said it would lay off 350 workers because of budget delays for ship repair work and new ship programs. The contract modification will significantly reduce those layoffs, according to General Dynamics, and the number of workers at the shipyard may increase by the end of this year. Nassco has about 3,600 employees and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast.