The U.S. Navy’s 12th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, the future USNS Newport (EPF 12), was launched on 20th February at Austal USA’s shipyard, NAVSEA announced.
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.
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 Abrams Main Battle Tank.
The future USNS Newport is on track to deliver later this year. 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).
As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.
Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport :
The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) is a United States Navy–led shipbuilding program to provide “a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intratheater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. The EPF will reach speeds of 35–45 knots (65–83 km/h; 40–52 mph) and will allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces as well as equipment and supplies.
The EPF has a flight deck for helicopters and a load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive on and off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. EPF has a shallow draft (under 15 feet (4.6 m)).
The EPF is an aluminum twin-hull catamaran shell containing four diesel engines, rudimentary control facilities for up to 40 crewmembers, and 312 airline-style passenger seats, along with an expansive flight deck on the top. The rest of the vessel is a convertible 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) mission bay that can be loaded to carry whatever cargo is needed. Vehicles and cargo are loaded and unloaded by a ramp that can support up to 100 tons of weight. Although designed for a military crew of 46, the ships usually have a crew of just 26 mariners. The passenger room contains reclining seats with overhead televisions and racks for weapons and equipment. Each vessel has 104 permanent berthing spaces. Without resupply, it can support 312 embarked personnel for four days, or 104 personnel for 14 days.