Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Martha Puller Downs, daughter of ship namesake Lewis B. Puller, will serve as the ship’s sponsor.
“This ceremony not only honors a true Marine hero and legend, but also the men and women who have worked so diligently to bring this first-of-its kind ship from concept to reality,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “It is because of their efforts that the future USNS Lewis B. Puller will enable our maritime forces to accomplish myriad missions while operating forward just as “Chesty” did throughout his nearly 40-year career.”
The future USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) will honor Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Burwell Puller, one of the most decorated Marines in the Corps, and the only Marine ever to win the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in action.
A Marine officer and enlisted man for 37 years, Lt. Gen. Puller served at sea or overseas for all but ten of those years, including a hitch as commander of the “Horse Marines” in China. Excluding medals from foreign governments, he won a total of 14 personal decorations in combat, plus a long list of campaign medals, unit citation ribbons, and other awards. In addition to his Navy Crosses (the next-highest decoration to the Medal of Honor for Naval personnel), he holds its Army equivalent, the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lewis B. Puller is the third ship of the Montford Point Class. Using the commercially designed Alaska class crude oil carrier as its base, the Navy’s Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Office worked in conjunction with General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) to develop a mature design to support the Navy’s core capabilities while maintaining low costs.
Lewis B. Puller will serve as the first purpose built MLP AFSB variant, optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions. Its design adds a flight deck, berthing, fuel storage, equipment storage, and repair spaces. With a rotating crew of civilian mariners and military personnel, the ship can operate forward almost continuously, providing a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security, and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
MLP has a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9,500 nautical miles. At 785 feet long, MLPs displace more than 78,000 tons when fully loaded. 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.
Release No: NR-041-15
February 06, 2015