NASSCO began construction on a fifth ship for the US Navy’s expeditionary transfer dock (ESD)/expeditionary sea base (ESB) program on January 25.
Designed to provide advanced flexibility and capability for sea-to-shore missions, the newest ESB will include a 4,800-square-metre flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodation for up to 250 personnel. Serving as a “pier at sea”, the 240-metre ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
The ship, ESB 5, is the fifth to be added to a contract between NASSCO and the US Navy that originally called for two ETDs: USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2).
The first two ships, formerly classified as mobile landing platforms (MLPs), were designed and constructed by NASSCO to support vehicle staging and transfers, and the movement of LCAC vessels. In 2012, a third ship, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, formerly known as an MLP “afloat forward staging base”, to support a wide range of military operations. All three ships have been delivered to the US Navy, and in October 2015, NASSCO began construction on ESB 4, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.