Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a $44,000,000 contract modification to previously awarded contract for the detail design, procurement, production implementation, and demonstration of autonomous capability in Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 13. Work is expected to complete by July 2022. Fiscal 2021 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) cost-to-complete funding in the amount of $22,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.
Austal USA has put forward the EPF platform as an option for the Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) in the past. The company has shown models of the EPF with vertical launch cells at trade shows. The models are in line with the Navy’s goal of developing an unmanned vessel to field a battery of missiles to work in conjunction with manned surface combatants. The potential of the EPF to operate unmanned opens the door to a range of new missions for the EPF ranging from logistics support to mine warfare and strike operations using vertical launch systems (VLS).
USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF-13) will be the thirteenth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport and will be operated by the Military Sealift Command. It will be the second ship in naval service named after Apalachicola, Florida. Apalachicola is under construction in Mobile, Alabama by Austal USA.The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) is a United States Navy–led shipbuilding program to provide “a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army.
The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intratheater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. The EPF will reach speeds of 35–45 knots (65–83 km/h; 40–52 mph) and will allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces as well as equipment and supplies.” The vessels are a part of Military Sealift Command’s Sealift Program. The class was previously designated as “Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)”, but was redesignated in September 2015.