In an important and timely display of confidence for the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program, the U.S. Navy has selected Mobile-based Austal USA to design and build an additional EPF.
The award comes in the form of a $235 million undefinitized contract action modification for the detailed design and construction of EPF 15. The modification was made formal by the Navy on Friday and announced by the company on Sunday afternoon.
This comes after the resignation of then-Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle last week and underscores the Department of Defense’s continued trust in the company.
The EPF program, currently operating on schedule and under budget, has delivered 12 ships to the Navy’s fleet thus far. The versatility of the EPF design has enabled each ship to provide a significant operational capability tailored to the needs of each geographic command. EPF 15 will include enhanced medical capability to increase its operational capability, a release noted.
“At its core, the EPF is designed to be highly capable, flexible and affordable,” stated Austal USA CFO and interim president Rusty Murdaugh. “With this baseline, we’ve been able to deliver multiple ships that are performing different missions for the U.S. military. The award of EPF 15 allows the Navy to leverage a hot production line and highly trained workforce to continue producing ships that are meeting the needs of warfighters today and into the future.”
Originally designed as a high-speed intra-theater transport, the EPF has been described by many in the U.S. military as the pick-up truck of the fleet. EPFs have performed humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, surveillance, command and control, counter narcotics, and additional operations in almost every region of the world.
With a draft of only 13 feet and waterjet propulsion, the EPF is able to access austere and degraded ports with minimal external assistance providing flexibility to fleet and combatant commanders. With its maneuverability, large open mission bay and ability to achieve speeds greater-than 35-knots, the EPFs have the capability to support additional missions such as special operations and medical support.
Austal USA builds EPFs and Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) at its world-class facilities in Mobile, Alabama.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn