Austal USA delivered the 338’x93’6″ Expeditionary Fast Transport ship Puerto Rico (EPF 11) to the U.S. Navy during a ceremony aboard the ship at the company’s headquarters in Mobile, Ala., Tuesday. Puerto Rico was the first EPF to perform and successfully complete integrated 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.
The Spearhead-class EPF, a high-speed catamaran with a 13′ draft, provides high-payload transport capability to U.S. combatant commanders around the world and is known as “the pickup truck” of the fleet. The ship’s large flight deck, open mission bay and habitability spaces provide an opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions from maritime security operations to humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
The ship, which is powered by four MTU 20V8000 engines to a speed of 35-40 knots, has built in flexibility that allows it to support potential future missions such as special operations, command and control, and primary medical operations. With its ability to access small, austere, and degraded ports with minimal external support, the EPF provides unique options to fleet and combatant commanders.
“We’re excited to get another EPF to the fleet,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in a statement announcing the delivery. “The role these EPFs play in supporting our nation’s defense is remarkable as evidenced by the various important missions EPFs have fulfilled globally.”
Upon delivery of Puerto Rico, two additional Spearhead-class EPFs are under construction at Austal’s Mobile, Ala. shipyard. Newport (EPF 12) is being erected in final assembly. Construction recently began on the future Apalachicola (EPF 13) in Austal USA’s state-of-the-art module manufacturing facility. The EPF 11 is manned by a crew of 26 civilians.
In addition to the EPF program, Austal is under contract to build Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy. Ten LCS have been delivered, while an additional six are in various stages of construction.