Austal Limited (Austal) has been awarded a new A$369 (US$261,776,539) million contract for two additional Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships (EPF) by the U.S. Navy. The contract award extends the EPF program to 2022, with construction of EPF 13 to commence in late 2019 and EPF 14 to follow in the middle of 2020. The contract follows the award for long-lead time materials on EPF 13 and EPF 14 that was announced in December 2018. The 14-ship, EPF program has to date been worth over US$2 billion and underscores the ability of Austal USA to build highly capable ships at an affordable cost.
“The extension of this program to 14 vessels is a result of the versatility of the EPF platform to perform an increasing range of roles for the U.S. Navy combined with the confidence our customer has in it. We continue to believe that the EPF vessel, in various configurations, has a long future ahead of it,” Austal CEO, David Singleton said. “We have a proven ability to build these cost effective vessels efficiently at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama and as a result they will continue to underpin the shipyard for several years to come. We are pleased to add these new vessels to what is already a record order book, which includes the contract Austal recently received for two additional Independence Class, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
Austal was awarded the initial contract to design and build the first 103-meter EPF in November 2008. Since then, ten Spearhead-class EPFs have been delivered and are serving as an affordable solution to fulfilling the Military Sealift Command’s requirements worldwide. The 338-foot long EPF vessel is an aluminum catamaran capable of transporting 600 tons, 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and is designed to operate in austere ports and waterways, too shallow and narrow for the larger ships in the surface fleet, providing added flexibility to U.S. warfighters worldwide. The ship’s flight deck can also support flight operations for a wide variety of manned and unmanned aircraft, including a CH-53 Super Stallion.
The Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships (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 to disaster relief, maritime security support operations, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance 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, and support operations.