Austal USA successfully completed acceptance trials in early August on the 338’x93’6″ Burlington, an expeditionary fast transport (EPF 10) vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Burlington is slated for delivery to the Navy in the fall and is the 10th ship in Austal’s 12-ship portfolio valued at over $1.9 billion.
Austal’s EPF program has delivered nine ships with three more under construction at the shipyard’s Mobile, Ala., facility. The 338′ Spearhead-class EPF is designed to provide high-speed, high-payload transport capability to fleet and combatant commanders. The EPF’s large, open mission deck and large habitability spaces provide the opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions from engagement and humanitarian assistance or disaster relief missions.
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.
In addition to the EPF program, Austal has also received contracts for 15 Independence-variant littoral combat ships (LCS) for the Navy with a combined value of over $4 billion. Eight LCSes have been delivered while an additional six are in various stages of construction.
“Another trial completed for the incredibly successful EPF program,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in a statement announcing the completed acceptance trials. “I am so proud of our dedicated workforce and how they keep achieving these milestones staying on schedule and budget.”
Burlington has a crew of 26 civilian mariners (CIVMARS) with airline style seating for 312 embarked troops and fixed berthing for an additional 104. Military Sealift Command (MSC) operates and sustains the EPFs, which are allocated via the Global Force Management (GFM) for Theater Security Cooperation (TSC), service unique missions, intra-theater sealift and special missions.
“We are so excited to hear about the great things these ships are doing around the world,” Perciavalle said. “From rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean, to conducting mine countermeasure exercises in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic, the EPF fleet is proving to be a great asset to our future 355-ship Navy.”