US Navy contracts VT Halter Marine to design, build new barracks ships

The US Navy's two newest barracks barges, APL-65 and APL-66, were commissioned in 2000. Photo: US Navy

The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded VT Halter Marine a $77.9 million contract to design and build a new class of barracks ships – dubbed Auxiliary Personnel Lighter – Small (APL(S)).

As these craft are similar to accommodation barges used in the commercial oil and gas industry, APL(S) was determined to be a commercial item and is being acquired under the procedures in Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 12 “Acquisition of Commercial Items”.

The barracks ship will provide berthing and messing facilities for sailors while their ships are in port for availabilities and Inter-Deployment Training Cycles (IDTC). As pointed out by the navy in 2016, thirteen of the seventeen APLs in service were built from 1944-1946 and are therefore approximately 70 years old. The new APLs are being built to improve sailors’ quality of life during availabilities and save a significant amount of money over the life of the program.

The APL(S) will support up to an aircraft carrier (CVN) size ship with berthing for approximately 600 personnel and messing for approximately 1,100 personnel. It will be a non-self-propelled craft designed to be towed to bases or shipyards where ship availabilities are being conducted.

The initial contract includes the design and construction of the lead and second craft in the APL(S) 67 class. However, it includes options for four additional craft and associated crew familiarization and packaging and delivery. Should all options be exercised, the cumulative value of the contract would be brought to $244 million.

The first two barges are expected to be built by July 2020.

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