Home » Budget Industry » Navy to Christen Afloat Forward Staging Base Puller on Saturday


Navy to Christen Afloat Forward Staging Base Puller on Saturday

An updated image of USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/ASFB-1). NASSCO Photo

An undated image of USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/ASFB-1). NASSCO Photo

The first purpose built at-sea platform for mine countermeasure (MCM) helicopters and special operations forces (SOF) is set to be christened at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif. on Saturday, according to the company.

The Afloat Forward Staging Base – USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/ASFB-1) – will be formally named in a ceremony at NASSCO ahead of an anticipated delivery to U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) in September.

U.S. Marine Corps commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford will speak at the ceremony.

The ship is the third NASSCO ship to be based on an Alaska-class crude carrier designed to provide at-sea support for the Navy’s MH-53E Sea Dragon MCM helos and for SOF forces.

The first two ships have been designated Mobile Landing Platforms (MLP) and will operate as an interface between MSC cargo ships and Navy landing craft to expand the projection power of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The two planned ships in the class plan to be forward deployed assets for the Navy – one to the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Middle East and one to the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Pacific.

The Navy currently employs the Austin-class LPD, USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15), as a Middle East AFSB.

In December, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded NASSCO $498 million to start construction on the second AFSB.

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  • N2N

    Total waste of money,could have put the money on 4 x 25T TEUs container vessels.They will earn money in times of peace and provide excellent logistics in times of war.And 5 x 10000 CEU with 400MT ramp car carriers.

    • Secundius

      @ N2N.

      Agreed, A Panamax class FEU/TEU Container Ship would have been a better choice…

      • Desert Tortoise

        You are missing the point. The ship can be ballasted down so that it has a wet deck from which landing craft and other craft can be floated off or cargo and containers transferred to barges for transfer ashore. If you do that kind of mod to a container ship hull you loose the ability to carry containers.
        This is twin screw and twin rudder with electric drive, features not seen on container ships. Good for survivability and excellent response. It has azimuth thrusters required for station keeping inshore. Container ships are designed for high speeds to maintain schedules but sacrifice low speed capabilities in the process. One great big diesel directly driving the prop. Reversing means shutting down the engine, reversing the cam(s) and re-starting the engine. Single shaft and single rudder. Reduced survivability, no inshore maneuverability. Dangerous.
        Different tools for different jobs.

  • Yes more non combatants…what a waste. The United States Navy needs both surface and sub-surface combatants with guns, torpedoes, missiles, both offe,nsive and defensive not BIG targets that will require other ship to defend them. Maybe the Navy can provide a couple, now called Frigates (LCS’s) to go in harms way and absorb the hits intended the BIG targets. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

    • leesea

      Senior, the Navy needs a spectrum of ships to include auxiliaries and sealift ships. This these would NEVER have been bought if they were warships because those cost so much.

      • Secundius

        @ leesea.

        Last I can remember, we still Midway and Wake. It’s pretty hard to sink an Island…

        • Desert Tortoise

          Eh, Wake Island was under water for a day or two during a typhoon some years back and the facilities there were almost beyond repair.
          In any event, you can’t run small boat and helo ops against pirates in the Straits of Malacca of off the Horn of Africa from Wake or Midway.

  • Secundius

    Combination Barracks Ship and Landing Ship, Carrier. Or, “Crossover”.

  • leesea

    NASSCO press office is working this one. the above prerel is full of holes. First off this ship is NOT “purpose built” it is a repurposed tanker design. They throw in the SOF to get around the fact that the US Navy has had many ships to support MIW. Besides the current Ponce, there was an LPH, and during WW2 and afterwards there were several built for the purpose of MIW ships look up MCS type on google or wiki.
    What this ship IS is: an over half billion $$$ hull, large slow target. Whose design has some questionable features like flight decks over boat operating stations, and undefined capacities for POL, ammo, provisions much less M&R shops for the NSW and other navy small craft which it will need to support. Not to mention that its hangar is only for two H-53s while its flight deck may have up to four plus UAVs plus mine sleds. so this is really a big damn minesweep support ship with some additional berthing. Do anyone believe the NSW sailors will actually use this big a target?

    Also normally the ship is delivered to MSC and formally named at the same time~

    • Secundius

      @ leesea.

      CH-53K’s are not what I consider small. For two 53’s you could fit three MV-22C or hafl-a-dozen MH-60R/S’s in the same hanger…

      • leesea

        Have you got hangar dimensions? Share

        • Secundius

          @ leesea.

          Can not find any additional information about the “Hanger”, but larger structure on the Bow Flight Deck is the Hanger. And the Insist of being capable of storing (4) Ch-53K King Dragons…

    • Secundius

      @ leesea.

      Ships Stats, say’s hanger accommodations for up to FOUR CH-53K King Stallion’s not two. crew 34 Merchant Marines + 298 Navy Boat Crews, 9,500nm @ 15-kts. 87,000-tons burden…

      • leesea

        that sound like NASSCO hype? Go look at the hangar door. Then think how much will I have to collapse the helo rotors etc. Then think how does one maneuver big 53s around.

        Not to mention that their are also UAVs and Mine Sleds on that deck in some combination.

        • Secundius

          @ leesea.

          Actually three hanger doors visible, two in the up position and one rolled down. F/Av-35B’s not a option, flight deck can’t handle Thrust-Vectored Jet Blast….

          • Desert Tortoise

            We probably don’t need F-35s to operate against the likes of Al Shabaab. Helos, V-22s and UAVs will do the job just fine. Keep the ship’s mission in mind. It’s not for storming well defended enemy beaches. It’s for counter terrorism and counter piracy presence. In a big amphibious op it would be a second wave asset. Would you likewise criticize how we pressed all kinds of ocean liners and other commercial ships into amphibious duty during WWII? Did they not provide wartime value to us?

          • leesea

            The ships missions are: MIW support which means H-53s and smaller helos along with UAVs and that mine sled; AND troop support that is the 500 troop berths. I see little if any alongside support for small boats of NECC or NSWC.

            That big hull has tankage for aviation and maybe boat fuel and small magazine for helos and troops and that is it~ No cargo holds, or boat shops, or even a decent medical facility… for which the USN paid around $625 million. What a waste of money!
            Take the funds for the last two to overhaul and convert the USS Ponce and USS Denver. They will last with MSC hybrid crew for at least 10 years, or until the USN changes its (mind) rqmts again.

    • Desert Tortoise

      It’s not a front line combat ship. It’s not intended to be. The idea is to free up front line combat ships and amphibs for high intensity ops and let ships like this do the missions that don’t require a full combat suite.
      You don’t need the latest generation of anti-ship cruise missiles or layered air defenses against pirates and many terrorist organizations. You need skilled SOF forces using small boats and helos, and the ability to stay someplace for a long time. Exert a presence over the horizon so the bad guys know we are always out there watching and waiting for an opportunity to get them. This ship does that for less money to buy and to operate than a modern LPD or LHD.

  • Jon

    So…the rational for NOT building smaller combatants was because they’d require forward basing/mother ships?

    • Secundius

      @ Jon.

      That’s what I would expect from the Navy, A “Screw-Ball” Answer. The last I looked the same Law of Physics apply to Large Ship’s as they do will Small Ship’s. Range, Fuel, Food, Crew Moral, etc…

    • leesea

      every small ship driver I know says they need a mothership to STAY on station. Bigger warships just have bigger storerooms and accomodations.

      • Jon

        Sure. But instead of building cheap and effective small combatants to operate in littoral areas with support from motherships, we built the LCS. Because you know, actual PBs/frigates/corvettes are so limited in range and endurance…

        Then we build what are effectively motherships/floating forward bases (based on a honking big tanker) anyway…

        While the LCS is forever tied to their forward port because of their short legs, small crews, and baked in portside maintenance requirements…

        • Secundius

          @ Jon.

          That’s not what LCS’s were built for, they were built too drop the Rapid Reaction Time for 72-hours to less than two days (more like 40-hours actually). Thank SecDef Donald Rumsfeld for the LCS’s, it’s HIS ‘brainchild” idea…

          • Jon

            Uh, no.

          • Secundius

            @ Jon.

            The initial requirements were for the LSC’s to “fly shotgun” with the JHSV, which could transport a Battalion ~312 Marines and their equipment for 3 to 5 day. The LCS’s were given minimum possible firepower to get the job done. And still be able to do 45+ knots with the JHSC doing ~43-knots.

            Another requirement was to produce a Light Destroyer for the Israeli Navy, but the Israeli’s lost interest…

          • Jon

            Navy committed to the LCS in 2001-2003, with one of the possible uses being to transport SpecOps. The JHSV as such, wasn’t even on the radar…it derives from the Joint High Speed Connector requirement from 2004-2006.

            Discussions about using the LCS to transport USMC didn’t start popping up until the 2010-2012 timeframe IIRC, when they were desperately scrambling to find uses to justify it. The USMC isn’t interested…and they’re only vaguely interested in the JHSV.

            The Donald’s involvement was his overall push for doing more with less, multiuse hardware, and smaller ships with smaller crews…Clark and Cebrowski were the drivers behind the LCS program, originally intended as a family of small, cheap, “disposable” coastal warships. A concept that rapidly morphed beyond all recognition.

          • Secundius

            @ Jon.

            On some of the USNI News websites, some people in favor of a NCS (Legend) class based PF-4921 Patrol Frigate or PF-4501 Light Frigate concept. Unfortunately not in the 2016 Naval Budget. Most likely candidate is Enlarged Independence Fast Frigate of about 4,800-tons with 35+ knots capability. ~6,000 to ~8,000nm range @ 18-knots. 2.24-inch (57mm/70-caliber) Bofors Auto Cannon to be replaced by 3-inch (76.2mmx63.3-caliber) Oto Melara Auto Cannon, with selective rate of fire between 85/120 rpm. Crew size has yet to be determined, but is suspected to be ~200 w/o aircrew. Mk.57 VLS w/ESSM’s (2) Mk. 38 0.984-inch 25x137mm Bushmaster Auto Cannons (4) twin M2 12.7x99mm BHMG’s (2) Mk. 15 0.79-inch 20x102mm Phalanx CIWS and 2 (11-cell) SeaRam Launchers. And either (2) MH-60R or S helicopters and (4) MQ-8 FireScout’s…

          • Jon

            They’re going to get the enlarged Independence, that’ll have a considerably shorter/slower cruising range than projected, will be crippled by the noisy and complicated propulsion, huge wake, probably won’t have a hull mounted sonar that would be useless anyway, probably won’t have a decent sensor or CM suite, no mention of ASW launchers…and good luck with the Firescouts, that AFAIK didn’t get funded since their price tag ballooned totally out of control.

            Slather as much lipstick on it as they can, the pig, is still a pig…

          • Secundius

            @ Jon.

            It’s the Navy after all, Sir. You know Square Peg in Round Hole String Theory. The concept of Multi-Functional to Just-Functional can have a adverse affect on rational thinking…

          • Secundius

            @ Jon.

            Welcome to the world’s of FUBAR and SNAFU. Where Kilroy and Murphy will meet you upon landing…

        • Desert Tortoise

          The Navy tried many types of fast attack craft for inshore warfare, the Ashville Class and the patrol hydrofoils for example, but the big drawback for us was their inability to cross oceans. Frigates are too slow and deep draft to mix with enemy FACS in their inshore waters but can easily cross oceans. FACs can’t make the ocean crossing but have the speed and shallow draft to operate against an enemies FACs. Ditto minesweepers.

          A mother ship is a sitting duck for an attack, and while ocean going are achingly slow and can’t be where they are needed to be when you need them to be there. So the idea with the LCS was to make something fast enough and shallow draft enough to mix with enemy FACs inshore while still retaining the ability to cross oceans and do so reasonably fast. Like anything in engineering it’s a compromise.

          Go back and read the often harsh critiques of the Spruance, Knox and OH Perry classes when they were introduced to the fleet. They sound an awful lot like the gripes of the old salts about the LCS. Time will tell who is right.

          • Jon

            Fighting FACs with a $500+ million dollar aluminum platform based on a civilian ferry design, lightly armed with essentially LOS weapons, is the first fallacy in that argument. Unfortunately, because of those engineering compromises you mention, there isn’t the excess load/power/cooling capacity to fit a decent weapons or sensor system. First rule of knife fighting, is “Don’t”. Second rule, is “Bring a gun”…the LCS, violates both of those rules.

            Whoever thought getting into a zero range fight with a crowd, the lightest weapon that any them is armed with, will drill through you lengthwise, is astonishing stupid. That’s why God invented air support and big honking guns with autoloaders that reach beyond the horizon. Why, would you spend billions, to accommodate the Iranians by fighting the fight they’re are intending, planning, and training for?

            Besides, IIRC, we’ve been assured that the LCS was never intended to be a littoral combat ship. Just what it was intended for, is a mystery. It can’t fight. The MiW module doesn’t work. And the ASW module doesn’t fit…

            LCS on a long haul ocean crossing isn’t going to get there any faster than a mother ship either carrying our own small craft or accompanying them/supplying fuel, probably slower in fact, and will require a pre-positioned forward support base, where they’re going to have to stop for maintenance, refueling, and crew swap. And once they get on station, will still require a major asset to provide cover for them…because they are just as much a sitting duck as a mothership with a SEARAM bolted to the deck. With the difference being the re-purposed tanker is probably more survivable.

            Difference between the Spruance, Knox and OH Perry classes, and the LCS? They had the excess capacity to be modified into useful assets. The LCS, does not. That’s the sticking point that can’t be worked around. It’s a (comparatively speaking) honking big ship, with a honking big empty mission bay, that actually can’t carry squat because it’s overweight and there’s not much left they can torch off.

  • Stick

    So what happens when the Navy retires the CH-53s?

    • Secundius

      @ Stick.

      What makes you think there retiring the 53’s, when the CH-53K King Stallions are being deployed in the Fleet and in the Corps…

      • Stick

        The Marines are keeping them, the Navy is phasing them out in favor of the CH-60s. Big difference in range which begs the question on the AFSB platform.

        • Secundius

          @ Stick.

          2013 Navy Appropriation Budget, 200 being deployed to Fleet. I’m assuming the if a Navy 53 can operate from ship, so can a Marine Corps 53…

          • Desert Tortoise

            The answer to your question is in the Shipboard Facilities Resume. That document tells you what aircraft each class and sub class of ship is qualified to operate.

        • Secundius

          @ Stick.

          The CH-60E is Troop Transport variant PROPOSED for the Marine Corps. No actual model exists yet, beyond being on paper…

        • Desert Tortoise

          Marines are not buying a UH-60 variant. That is Sikorsky marketing. The CH-53E is to be replaced by the CH-53K and the CH-46E is being replaced now by the V-22. UH-1s are being upgraded to the Y model. There are no plans for the Marines to buy any UH/SH/MH/CH-60 variant.

  • No the Navy needs warships. Less real warships than prior to WW1. LCS are not warship just targets so you can subtract them from total. If it dose not have a offensive weapon let the Army buy them. Agree with N2N and his solution. San Diego Shipbuilding I wonder how many retired 06 plus are on their board or in their pockets?
    Take a glance at our reserve fleet numbers and you can pick out a enough ships for conversion. Fast ships to go in harms way not big slow unarmed stationary targets. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

    • Secundius

      @ Ken Badoian.

      Euphemistically the MPL//ASFB-1, USNS. Lewis B. Puller. Is a Mobile-Dyrdock, Repair and Supply Ship. Just cruising the ocean’s trying to be useful. Only time will tell, if it is. If you think tis concept is Strange. If it becomes successful, you haven’t seen Strange Yet…

      • Desert Tortoise

        The inspiration for these ships was something the US Army operated for many years, the MV American Cormorant (AK 2062). You can do things with ships like this that you can’t do with a conventional amphib. Amphibs can’t float off tug boats, floating cranes, causeways or the size barges something like the American Cormorant could carry.

  • Quentin Richardson

    Anyway know where the homeport for this ship will be

  • HenryV

    They will end up buying a few more. Not sure why they went with superstructure aft but who am I to ask? All they need now is a LCU LCAC replacement……..