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Semi-Submersible Amphibious Ship
by James Dunnigan
April 19, 2013

The U.S. Navy recently received the first (USNS Montford Point) of three Mobile Landing Platform (T-MLP) ships. These 34,500 ton vessels are, in effect, seagoing piers for situations where there is no friendly port handy. The T-MLP looks like a container ship with the main deck lowered to approximately the height of a dock. On the side of the T-MLP are mooring fenders (so cargo ships can, literally, tie up like at a dock). The T-MLP also has ramps for getting cargo off ships. Cargo would be transferred to landing craft or LCAC (air-cushion high speed landing craft which can carry 60 tons of cargo). The T-MLP can also partially submerge itself so that its deck is underwater. Landing craft can then move over the deck and the T-MLP can bring its deck back out of the water so the landing craft can be loaded.

Each T-MLP costs $134 million and is built to commercial (not military) ship standards and uses a civilian crew (as is the case with all USNS ships). Each T-MLP has 2,322 square meters (25,000 square feet) of vehicle storage space and can carry over 1.5 million liters of fuel. The T-MLP is highly automated and only needs a crew of 34.

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