Navy prepares to build 12th expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessel for battle-front maneuver
WASHINGTON, 6 May 2016. U.S. Navy leaders are getting ready to order the service's twelfth expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessel and its shipboard electronics for the quick transport of warfighters, their equipment, and other cargo within battle theaters.
Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $24.6 million contract this week to Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., for long-lead-time material and initial engineering support for Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 12 (formerly Joint High Speed Vessel 12).
The Spearhead-class EPF will provide high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies, and equipment for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. The vessel can reach speeds of 35 to 45 knots to move conventional or special forces warfighters, military equipment, and cargo.
The Navy ordered long-lead materials last November for the eleventh EPF vessel in a $53.5 million contract to Austal. Long-lead items involve system components like electronics and propulsion that require the longest time to build, which could delay overall system production if money isn't allocated for production early in the process.
The EPF ship can transport company-sized units with their vehicles. As a troop transport it can move an infantry battalion. The EPF has a flight deck for helicopters and a load ramp to help drive vehicles on and off the ship.
This contract action is for the procurement of long-lead-time materials to support the detail design and construction of EPF 12. This action will help Austal acquire main propulsion engines, shafting and bearings, waterjet propulsors, stern ramp, and anchor chains.
The EPF is an aluminum twin-hull catamaran with four diesel engines. Without resupply, it can support 312 embarked personnel for four days, or 104 personnel for 14 days. The design is 70 percent in common with the Hawaii Superferry, also built by Austal USA.
The control system for the EPF comes from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems through an open-architecture computing infrastructure for combat and ship control systems that is similar to that of the Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), also built by Austal. The communications suite for this class comes from BAE Systems.
Navy leaders say they expect to buy 23 EPF vessels over 30 years. The first ship in the class, USNS Spearhead, was delivered in late 2012. On this contract Austal will do the work in Novi and Kingsford, Mich.; Houston; Winter Haven, Fla.; and Blaine, Wash., and should be finished by March 2020.