Austal Lays Keel for U.S. Navy’s 13th Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessel, Future USNS Apalachicola
Austal USA has hosted the keel laying ceremony of U.S. Navy’s 13th Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, the future USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF-13), at its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama on Jan. 21.
Once commissioned, the future USNS Apalachicola will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. She will be the second ship in naval service named after Apalachicola, Florida.
— Austal USA (@Austal_USA) January 21, 2021
In 2019, Austal Limited was awarded a USD261 million contract for two additional Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships, EPF-13 and EPF-14, by the U.S. Navy. The company started the construction of the future USNS Apalachicola on Aug. 19, 2019, and the future USNS Cody (T-EPF 14) on Oct. 14, 2020.
The EPF’s large, open-mission deck and large habitable spaces provide the opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions including engagement and humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) missions to maritime security support operations and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions across the world.
The design of the EPF has a shallow draft of 13 feet and an advanced water jet propulsion system, enabling speeds greater than 40 knots. This capability provides EPF the versatility to access austere and degraded ports with minimal external assistance, enabling the vessels to support requirements in special operations, command and control (C2), and support operations.
Spearhead-class 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 (RO/RO) discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded U.S. Army M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT).
The 14-ship, EPF program has to date been worth over US$2 billion.