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Autonomous capabilities open doors for expeditionary fast transport to undertake new missions

17th August 2022 - 10:57 GMT | by Harry Lye in London


The future USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13), pictured in 2021. (Photo: Austal)

The addition of autonomous capabilities to the Austal-built future Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 13, USNS Apalachicola, allows the ship to undertake new missions, including that of an adjunct magazine providing VLS capability.

On 29 July, the USN announced the thirteenth Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transportvessel (EPF 13) was performing a series of planned test events to assess autonomous capabilities integrated into the ship to demonstrate a large ship can become a 'self-driving platform'.

Dubbed the 'Unmanned Logistics Prototype trials', the USN said each test event would increase 'the perception capabilities and complexity of behaviours demonstrated by the autonomous systems.'

As of 29 July, test evolutions included point-to-point autonomous navigation, vessel handling and transfer of control of the vessel between crewed and uncrewed modes.

Shipbuilder Austal USA told Shephard that integrating autonomous capabilities

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Harry Lye


Harry Lye

Harry Lye was Senior Naval Reporter at Shephard Media.

Harry joined the company in 2021, …

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