US Navy stages USNS Yuma christening beneath the ship’s hull

USNS Yuma christening is held beneath the ship's hull. Photo: Austal
USNS Yuma christening is held beneath the ship’s hull. Photo: Austal

The U.S. Navy has christened its newest Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, USNS Yuma (EPF 8) during a ceremony held at Austal’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard on Saturday, August 20.

What made this christening ceremony special is the fact that it was held beneath the ship’s hull with guests seated between the two hulls of the catamaran.

USNS Yuma is the eighth of 10 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF) that Austal USA is delivering under a contract with the U.S. Navy valued in excess of US$1.6 billion.

Yuma, designated EPF 8, honors the city of Yuma, Ariz., and its historically strong ties to the military.

Ship sponsor Janet Napolitano, former Governor of Arizona and current President of the University of California, joined guests from the US Navy, state and local government, Austal USA management and employees for the christening ceremony, held beneath the hull of the ship in the final assembly bay.

The 103 metre, shallow draft all-aluminium catamaran, is a multi-mission, non-combatant transport vessel. The ship is capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances.

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 ship is 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).

EPF 8 is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named Yuma as a tribute to the residents of the Arizona city and their close ties with the military.

USNS Yuma will ultimately join her sister EPF’s that have been delivered over the last three years, including USNS Spearhead (T-EPF-1) which has logged over 100,000 nautical miles at sea and is currently on her fifth deployment since she was delivered in 2012.

Three more EPF’s and seven Independence variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are currently under construction at Austal USA. Next month, the shipyard is scheduled to launch USNS Yuma, while the future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) will undergo builder’s sea trials.