Austal USA has been awarded a US$40.4 million (AU$54.9 million) order to fund the procurement of long lead-time materials for the construction of the 14th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), EPF-14, for the U.S. Navy.
This contract follows a similar award for procurement of long lead time items for EPF 13, which is planned to commence fabrication in late 2019.
This order means that Austal has received long lead material contracts for 2 EPF’s in this financial year, one funded from the FY18 US Federal budget and one from the FY19 US Federal budget. It is expected that these contracts will lead to full vessel contracts later in the fiscal year. If awarded, these full vessel contracts will ensure EPF construction continuity out until 4th quarter 2022.
Long lead-time materials for the additional vessel will include diesel engines, water jets and reduction gears.
Austal was awarded the initial contract to design and build the first 103-meter EPF in November 2008. The EPF is a high speed, shallow draft catamaran, designed for rapid intra-theatre transport of troops and cargo. Reaching rapid speeds of 35-45+ knots allows the EPF to be used for rapid deployment of conventional and special-forces with their equipment and supplies, making it an ideal platform for utilisation in emergency humanitarian disaster relief.
EPF class ships are able to transport 600 short tons of military cargo, 1,200 nautical miles, at an average speed of 35 knots. They are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank. Each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. The EPF class ships will have airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces with fixed berthing for 104.
The EPF program delivered its tenth ship, USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10) last month.
The 11th vessel, the future USNS Puerto Rico (EPF 11), was launched last month and is preparing for sea trials and the future USNS Newport (EPF 12) is being erected in final assembly.
In addition to the EPF program, Austal is also under contract to build Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy. Nine LCS have been delivered, while an additional six are in various stages of construction.