U.S. Navy Fact Sheet
Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD)/Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB)
The Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) and Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship classes are highly flexible platforms that may be used across a broad range of military operations supporting multiple operational phases. Acting as a mobile sea base, they are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to provide prepositioned equipment and sustainment with flexible distribution.
The ESD and ESB ships were originally called the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) and the MLP Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB), respectively. In September 2015, the Secretary of the Navy re-designated these hulls to conform to traditional three-letter ship designations. The design of these ships is based on the Alaska class crude oil carrier, which was built by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO). Leveraging commercial designs ensures design stability and lower development costs.
The USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2) are configured with the Core Capability Set (CCS), which consists of a vehicle staging area, vehicle transfer ramp, large mooring fenders and up to three Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vessel lanes to support its core equipment transfer requirements. With a 9,500 nautical mile range at a sustained speed of 15 knots, these approximately 80,000 tons, 785-foot ships leverage float-on/float-off technology and a reconfigurable mission deck to maximize capability. Additionally, the ships' size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.
USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), the first Expeditionary Sea Base delivered, along with follow ships Hershel "Woody" Williams (ESB 4) and Miguel Keith (ESB 5), are being optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions, including Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Airborne Mine Counter Measures (AMCM). The ESBs, which include a four spot flight deck, mission deck and hangar, are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support and command and control assets.
Montford Point (T-ESD 1), John Glenn (T-ESD 2) and Hershel "Woody" Williams (T-ESB 4) have all delivered to the U.S. Navy and are operated by Military Sealift Command. In August 2017, upon arrival in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, ESB 3 was re-designated from USNS and commissioned as a USS. As a commissioned Navy ship, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) is commanded by a Navy O-6 with a permanently embarked military crew. This re-designation provides combatant commanders greater operational flexibility as to how the platform is employed in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.
The Navy worked in close partnership with NASSCO to identify cost savings early in the ESD design process while pursuing a concurrent design and production engineering approach. Following the successful production readiness review (an evaluation of the ship's design maturity, availability of materials and the shipbuilder's ability to successfully start construction) the Secretary of the Navy certified the design and informed Congress that the design of ESD was more than 85 percent complete and ready to proceed with fabrication.
The Navy awarded NASSCO a fixed-price incentive fee type contract for the detail design and construction of T-ESD 1 and T-ESD 2 in May 2011. A detail design and construction contract was awarded to NASSCO for T-ESD 3 in February 2012. The ship configuration was subsequently changed to ESB 3 mid-construction via an engineering change proposal in March 2014 after receiving JROC approval. A detail design and construction contract for ESB 4 was awarded on Dec. 19, 2014 and the construction contract for ESB 5 was awarded December 2016. T-ESD 1, T-ESD 2, ESB 3, and T-ESB 4 have delivered; ESB 5 is under construction.