The Navy has awarded Austal USA a $40.3 million contract to fund the acquisition of long lead-time material (LLTM) and production engineering for the construction of a 103-meter expeditionary fast transport, EPF 14.
Austal was awarded the initial contract to design and build the first 338′ EPF in November 2008. Since then, 10 Spearhead-class EPFs have been delivered and are fulfilling the Military Sealift Command’s requirements worldwide. Burlington (EPF 10) was delivered in November and two more EPFs are under construction. A similar contract was recently awarded to order long lead-time materials for EPF 13 in anticipation of a construction contract award.
It is expected that these contracts will lead to full vessel contracts later in the fiscal year. If awarded, these full vessel contracts will ensure EPF construction continuity until the fourth quarter of 2022.
Long lead-time material for the additional vessel will include diesel engines, waterjets and reduction gears.
With a draft of 13′, the EPF has the ability to access austere and degraded ports with minimal external assistance. The EPF is designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots in sea state 3. The ships are capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).
The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. The ship’s shallow draft further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport, according to the Navy.