- USNS Lewis B. Puller will primarily support AMCM and special forces operations in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility
- The ship will replace the 46-year old USS Ponce
The US Navy's (USN’s) first purpose-built expeditionary sea base is en-route to the Gulf to begin its maiden operational deployment.
USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) sailed from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on 10 July. The ship will be based in Bahrain, from where it will provide operational support to the US 5th Fleet and allied forces operating in the region.
Previously designated as an Afloat Forward Staging Base variant of the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), Lewis B. Puller was built by the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California, and delivered to the navy in June 2015. Operated by Military Sealift Command (MSC), the vessel has a hybrid crew with a combination of military personnel and civilian mariners; the latter are primarily focused on the operation of the ship.
While USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2) - the first two MLP vessels now re-designated as Expeditionary Transfer Docks – were built to support maritime prepositioning forces, Lewis B. Puller and two follow-on ships adopt a modified design optimised for the support of airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) and special operations missions.
Additional features introduced for the ESB include an aviation hangar and flight deck (with four operating spots capable of landing MH-53E AMCM or equivalent helicopters); accommodation, work spaces, and ordnance storage for an embarked force of up to 250 personnel; enhanced command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) capabilities to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and a reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds, rigid hull inflatable boats, and the Combatant Craft Assault.
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