Austal: Keel laid for US Navy’s 13th EPF

Shipbuilder Austal USA has held a keel laying ceremony for the future USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF 13), the US Navy’s 13th Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) ship.

The ceremony took place in Mobile, Alabama, on 21 January 2020.

Photo: Austal

The future USNS Apalachicola is the second ship named in honor of the city of Apalachicola, Fla: the first, a large harbor tug (YTB-767), served from 1965 to 2002.

The newbuild is part of the US Navy’s T-EPF program encompassing 14 high-speed transport vessels from Austal.

The Austal-built EPF is a shallow draft, all aluminum, commercial-based catamaran that is designed for high-speed intra-theater surface lift and serves in a variety of roles for the military branches to include support of overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and supporting special operations forces.

The 103 metre T-EPF is capable of transporting 600 short tons up to 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.

The ships can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-load a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). They have a core crew of 21 people, with airline style seating for more than 312 embarked forces and fixed berthing for 146.

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allows vehicles to quickly drive off the ship.

The US Navy awarded contracts to Austal for the EPF 13 in 2018 and 2019.

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