San Diego July 9, 2015 - USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3), Military Sealift Command’s newest ship, departed San Diego yesterday for its post availability shakedown cruise.
Puller was delivered to MSC in May. The shakedown cruise is the first time the ship will sail outside of the San Diego area of operations, as it transits to San Francisco, where it will demonstrate its ability to berth at a civilian pier. Following two days in port, the ship will return to San Diego for a post availability. Puller will travel to Norfolk, Va., later this year for further mission testing, before becoming operational in 2016.
Puller is the third Mobile Landing Platform ship and the first purpose-built afloat forward staging base (AFSB) vessel. Unlike the first two MLPs; USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn, that facilitate the seabasing of an amphibious landing force by acting as a floating base or transfer station that can be prepositioned off the target area, Puller will serve as an afloat forward staging base supporting special forces missions, counter piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations, and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
Puller operates under the control of MSC. MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.