Welcome Montford Point to the fleet:
The MLP is a highly 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 an MLP especially useful during disaster response and for supporting Marines once they are ashore.
The ship will leverage float-on/float-off technology, allowing Montford Point to partially submerge, facilitating easy movement of cargo and craft. Additionally, the ship’s size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.
With this set of capabilities, the ship is able to easily transfer personnel and vehicles from other vessels such as the large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSRs) onto landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles and transport them ashore. The platform with its open, reconfigurable mission deck will serve as an important flexible and transformational asset to the Navy as it can be reconfigured to support a wide variety of future operations.
The nearly 800-foot, 80,000 ton displacement ship will be operational in 2015. It will provide the ability to project forces ashore in an area where there is no port. Non-amphibious warfare ships--like our maritime prepositioned ships (MPS), I assume--can transfer troops, equipment, and supplies to the MLP, which can then send them ashore without using port facilities to do so.
Or it could supplement a smaller port's facilities that normally would rule out that port as an objective.
This gives us much greater flexibility in choosing a landing site and complicates enemy defensive problems. If we are not limited to projecting power ashore in an area where we can quickly seize a major port, it will increase our chances of getting ashore with a sizable force intact and then building up forces to project power inland.
Obviously, the MLP will be a prime target if it is our logistics choke point. So if used against an enemy with significant anti-ship forces we'd still need to get a port fairly quickly.
Two others of the class are under construction.