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A sign of sanity? Navy buys ships based on a commercial design.

By Steve Geary | 02/02/2015 | 5:35 PM

The Navy has accepted delivery of two ships called Mobile Landing Platforms (MLPs).  The MLP ship class leverages an existing commercial design, the Alaska class crude oil carrier built by General Dynamics'- National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO).  Double hulled, the Alaska class was designed for BP in the aftermath of the Prudhoe Bay disaster.

The Navy variant is an amphibious assault ship - capable of being reconfigured to support other missions, like humanitarian relief - being constructed to serve as floating bases for amphibious operations.  It operates as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft.  The ship is semi-submersible, allowing landing craft to float in and off the ship. 

The ship is huge.  Stand it on end, and it would reach about two-thirds of the way up the Empire State Building.

The interesting thing about this class is the way it was designed.  According to breakingdefense.com, “When the Navy initially put together its design requests, the ship was going to cost north of one billion per ship.  It was on the way to the junk pile of ideas. Enter the NASSCO team, which worked closely with the Navy to find a way to make this ship a reality.  After years of rethinking how to build the ship, the Navy is getting three ships which are about 80 percent of the initial concept requirements for the price of the initial projected ship cost.”

And the breakthrough thought?  Leverage an existing commercial design, leading to savings of hundreds of millions of dollars per ship.

In today’s budget environment, let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.  



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About Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph is a recently retired Marine Colonel with over 30 years of operational experience, proven leadership, and management success in the logistics and supply chain management fields. He is an executive consultant with ROSE Solutions and the Supply Chain Visions family of companies - consultancies that work throughout the government sector. Mike led the Marine Corps Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management Center at Marine Corps Logistics Command - responsible for supply chain and life cycle management of all ground weapon systems, equipment, and reparable components, the depot maintenance program, and equipment prepositioning program. During 2004-2008, he served two tours of duty in Anbar Province, Iraq as the G-4 for Multi-National Force – West, supporting all combat operations and coalition efforts to revitalize Iraqi economic development and stability. Mike's efforts were recognized with the Bronze Star for his first tour and the Legion of Merit for his second. He was widely recognized as a visionary and innovator in the Marine Corps logistics community.


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