Here’s an interesting data point for the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) in its role as a transfer point for pre-positioned cargo. A DOT&E test verified the design transfer spec, stating,
“When the MLP was positioned 25 nautical miles from the LCAC shore landing site, it met its timed transfer requirement, enabling Marine Corps equipment for a reinforced rifle company to be moved to shore in less than 12 hours.” [from DOT&E 2015 Annual Report]
So, the MLP is capable of transferring the equipment for a single reinforced rifle company over a distance of 25 miles in 12 hours.
The Navy has two MLPs and will have three MLP-AFSBs. I assume the MLP-AFSB would be capable of functioning as the MLP but I don’t know that for sure. On the other hand, it’s likely that the MLP-AFSB would not be available for the MLP cargo transfer role because it would be occupied performing its designated MCM role.
The question, then, is whether two MLPs (possibly five) have sufficient throughput capacity to support a major assault in a relevant time frame? Of course, this also assumes that the MLP can maintain that transfer rate indefinitely. My guess is that the 12 hour test was something of a max effort and could not be indefinitely sustained by either the crew or the equipment. Regardless, is this sufficient transfer capability? I don’t know the answer. If there’s an amphibious logistics expert among the readers, please chime in!
Transfer capability and capacity aside, the MLP seems to have met its design specs according to the DOT&E assessment. Notably, the ship’s tested range significantly exceeded the spec (12,000 nm vs. a spec of 9500 nm).
I’m on record as stating that the MLP seems to be a vulnerable weak point in the amphibious assault scheme in the sense that there are very few of them and they represent such a vital capability. A semi-intelligent enemy would make them a priority target and the loss of even one would seriously cripple an assault.
All that said, it’s nice to see a vessel at least meet its design specs!