Austal USA christened the 338' Navy expeditionary fast transport ship. the (EPF-13) USNS Apalachicola, during a ceremony at its ship manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala., on Friday. 

Austal has delivered 12 EPFs since December 2012. Apalachicola is slated for delivery this summer.

The Honorable Kelly Loeffler, ship sponsor of the Apalachicola, performed the ceremonial bottle break over the bow of the ship, the 13th EPF designed and constructed by Austal USA and the second U.S. Navy ship to be named after the Florida coast city. The first Navy ship named Apalachicola (YTB-767), a Natick-class large harbor tug, was also built in Mobile at Mobile Ship Repair in 1963.

“Today we celebrate the christening of the 13th EPF with an Austal team of more than 3,000 employees,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said in a statement announcing the christening. “Apalachicola’s sister ships are successfully supporting naval commands on the U.S. East and West Coasts, along with forward deployments in the Middle East, Africa, Mediterranean, South America, and Asia regions. In the coming months, this highly complex, high-speed ship will join the others to support our great Navy.”

EPFs have performed humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, surveillance, command and control, counter narcotics, and additional operations in almost every region of the world.

One unique characteristic of EPF 13 is that Austal USA has been contracted to design, procure, implement, and demonstrate EPF 13 as an autonomous platform, allowing EPF 13 to operate autonomously while retaining the capability for manned operation, reducing cost and centralizing ship operations to the bridge.

Apalachicola (EPF 13) is one of two expeditionary fast transport ships Austal USA is currently building for the Navy, while the start of construction on the future Point Loma (EPF 15) will begin at the end of this month. Five littoral combat ships (LCS) are also under various stages of construction at the Gulf Coast shipyard.