The U.S. Navy’s 12th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, the future USNS Newport (EPF 12), was launched at Austal USA’s shipyard, Feb. 20.
The launching of an EPF is a multi-step process. The ship modules are constructed in Austal’s manufacturing facility, then transported to the assembly bay. When ready for launch, the ship is translated by heavy lift machinery to a docking barge in the Mobile River and further translated onto a floating drydock. From there, the drydock is submerged and the ship is launched. The translation and launch takes place over the course of two days.
“We are excited to get Newport in the water, so we can shift focus to final outfitting and trials,” said Tim Roberts, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “EPFs increase our reach, improving our ability to sustain our Navy and Marine Corps forces around the globe.”
Future USNS Newport was christened during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama on Nov. 9 last year. The future USNS Newport is on track for delivery later this year.
Newport will be the fourth ship in naval service named after Newport, Rhode Island.
The first Newport (Gunboat No. 12) was commissioned on Oct. 5, 1897. During the Spanish-American War, she received credit for assisting in the capture of nine Spanish vessels. The ship was decommissioned in 1898 but recommissioned in 1900 to serve as a training ship at the Naval Academy and at the Naval Training Station at Newport, R.I., until decommissioning in Boston in 1902.
The second Newport (PF-27) was commissioned Sept. 8, 1944, and decommissioned in September 1945 and loaned to the U.S.S.R. under Lend-Lease and returned to United States custody at Yokosuka, Japan, in November 1949. Recommissioned in July 1950, Newport patrolled off Inchon, Korea, screening during the landings. Decommissioned at Yokosuka in April 1952, she was loaned to Japan in 1953 and commissioned as Kaede (PF-13). She was then reclassified PF-293 and transferred to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force outright in August 1962.
The third Newport (LST-1179) was commissioned on June 7, 1969. Assigned to the Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Newport alternated amphibious training operations along the east coast of the United States with extended deployments to the Caribbean and Mediterranean. She was decommissioned in October 1992 and transferred to the government of Mexico in 2001.
EPFs are versatile, non-combatant, transport ships that are being used for high-speed transportation of troops, military vehicles, and equipment. The vessels support a variety of missions including overseas contingency operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, support of special operations forces, theater security cooperation activities and emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
EPFs are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. Each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT).
The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of its 11th EPF vessel, the USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), from Austal USA on Dec. 10. Austal USA has also started construction of the future USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13) and is under contract to build the future USNS Cody (EPF 14).