The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of its 11th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), from Austal USA on Dec. 10.
Delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the Navy.
“We are excited to accept delivery of another versatile ship, further expanding the advantage of our civilian mariners at sea,” said Capt. Scot Searles, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “Delivery of our 11th ship is a testament to the inherent flexibility of the EPF class.”
In August this year, the future USNS Puerto Rico was the first EPF to perform and successfully complete integrated sea trials – combining builder’s trials and acceptance trials into one at-sea event – returning to port flying a broom at her mast indicating a “clean sweep” of the tests the ship and her crew performed in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Puerto Rico joins the growing fleet of EPFs constructed by Austal USA and proudly serving with the U.S. Navy in locations as diverse as the USA, Middle East and South East Asia”, said Austal Chief Executive David Singleton.
“The EPF continues to impress the U.S. Navy and indeed many other navies around the world with the genuine flexibility and operability of the platform.”
EPF 11 will be owned and operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC). MSC ships are primarily civilian manned by either civil service mariners or contract crews with Navy or Marine Corps personnel on board to carry out communication and special mission functions, or for force protection.
The 103-meter Spearhead-class EPFs are shallow-draft, all-aluminum, commercial-based catamarans that are capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo transport, which provide combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility. EPFs enable rapid projection, agile maneuver and transport of personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances with access to austere and degraded offload points.
As versatile, non-combatant vessels, EPFs provide increased operational flexibility for a wide range of activities including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations, and flexible logistics support. These vessels are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank. EPFs include a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations and airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces, with fixed berthing for 104.
Austal USA is also currently in production on the future USNS Newport (EPF 12) and USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13), and is under contract to build the future USNS Cody (EPF 14).
In addition to the EPF program, Austal is under contract to build Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy. Ten LCSs have been delivered, while an additional six are in various stages of construction.