US Navy achieves EPF milestones
The US Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) programme remains on track with the keel for the ninth vessel authenticated and fabrication now begun on the eleventh ship, the navy announced on 19 January.
EPF 9, the future USNS City of Bismarck, had its keel authenticated in a ceremony by the former attorney general of North Dakota; while the start of construction on EPF 11, USNS Puerto Rico, signifies the procurement of materials and components, and the shipyard's ability to begin fabrication on the hull. Austal USA was awarded a contract in September 2016 for the detail design and construction of EPFs 11 and 12.
EPFs are designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, increasing operational flexibility for a wide range of activities, including manoeuvre and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, and rapid transport.
Each vessel is capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The vessels are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles, and has a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations.
The fleet will support a variety of missions including overseas contingency operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, special operations forces, and emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
Capt Henry Stevens, strategic and theater sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships, said: ‘As we mark these milestones, the programme is benefitting from serial production efficiencies at all stages of the construction process. Our industry and navy teams are committed to delivering these highly-capable platforms, and today's milestones mark our progress in delivering two more ships.’
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