Austal splashes US Navy’s tenth EPF

Shipbuilder Austal USA has launched USNS Burlington, the US Navy’s 10th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel.

Burlington was launched on March 1 following the last week’s christening.

“Ship launches are milestone events in any shipbuilding program, but today’s launch is particularly significant as it is the tenth EPF launch in less than seven years,” Capt. Scot Searles, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships, said.

As explained, the launching of an EPF is a multi-step process at Austal. The ship is constructed in a modular manufacturing facility and is translated to a docking barge and then transported to a dry dock where it can then be submerged into the water and launched. All of this takes place over the course of two days.

EPFs are non-combatant, transport ships that are being used for high-speed transportation of troops, military vehicles, and equipment. The vessels support a variety of missions including overseas contingency operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, support of special operations forces, theater security cooperation activities and emerging joint sea-basing concepts.

Capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank.

The ninth EPF ship, USNS City of Bismarck, was delivered to the navy in December 2017.

The shipbuilder is also building Puerto Rico (EPF 11) and Newport (EPF 12).