San Diego --
The United States Navy presented its first mobile landing platform, the USNS Montford Point named after the first 20,000 African-American Marines trained at Camp Montford Point, Jacksonville, N.C., in 1942, during a ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard, here, March 2.
Christened by Jackie Bolden, wife of retired Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, a popular Marine general, astronaut and current NASA Administrator, the USNS Montford Point will serve as a 785-foot mobile pier, reducing American forces’ dependency on foreign ports. The ship provides 25,000 square feet of space to house vehicles, equipment and 380,000 gallons of fuel, according to the Navy.
More than 30 original Montford Point Marines attended the ceremony along with Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps; the president of General Dynamics NASSCO; and several San Diego officials. All shared their insights to commemorate the occasion.
“Today we recognize the legacy of the Montford Point Marines with another pioneering effort,” said Amos. “[This ship] represents a leap ahead in our nation’s ability to project power across the world’s oceans. As an interoperable ‘pier in the sea,’ the [mobile landing platform] will significantly reduce our requirement for foreign ports in which to offload our equipment.”
The ship will be able to support aviation combat element needs as well ground unit vehicle needs while forward deployed.
“The [mobile landing platform] will further enable the Navy and Marine Corps team’s ability to remain both a forward-deployed hedge force against uncertainty and the partner of choice for many of our allies around the world,” said Amos. “The groundbreaking capability inherent in this ship is unmatched and is a ‘game-changer’ in the concept of pre-positioned forces and equipment.”
Much like the Marines, this vessel was named after the well-earned access for blacks into the Marine Corps. The USNS Montford Point will allow Marines and naval forces access to almost anywhere within reach of the ocean via aircraft or landing craft air-cushioned hovercraft vehicle.
After honoring the Montford Point Marines, who paved the way for African-Americans in the services, one of these Marines had an important message of his own to give.
“If I could say one thing to the Marines and sailors who will serve aboard this ship it’s this,” said retired Sgt. Maj. James Moore, the chaplain for his local Montford Point Marines chapter, “they have inherited a great legacy – the legacy of Montford Point Marine… by virtue of the ship’s name, I know they will do great things to uphold the images of the Marine Corps and Navy and also our freedom.”