A civilian-crewed U.S. military support ship recently took a big step towards delivery.
The USNS Puerto Rico – which will be crewed by CIVMARS from the SIU Government Services Division – successfully completed the first integrated sea trials for an expeditionary fast transport (EPF) ship Aug. 22. The vessel returned to the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, following two days underway in the Gulf of Mexico.
Integrated trials combine builder’s and acceptance trials, allowing for the shipyard to demonstrate to the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey the operational capability and mission readiness of all the ship’s systems during a single underway period. During trials, the shipbuilder conducted comprehensive tests to demonstrate the performance of the Puerto Rico’s major systems.
“The EPF program continues to be an example of stable and successful serial ship production,” said Capt. Scot Searles, Navy Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “I look forward to seeing EPF 11 deliver in the fall and expand the operational flexibility available to our combatant commanders.”
SIU CIVMARS already sail aboard the previously launched EPFs. The Navy describes the ships as “non-combatant vessels designed to operate in shallowdraft ports and waterways, increasing operational flexibility for a wide range of activities including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport. 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.”
EPFs support a variety of missions including overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces, and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
In addition to the Puerto Rico, Austal USA is also currently in production on the future USNS Newport, and is under contract to build the future USNS Apalachicola and an additional sister ship that hasn’t been named.