US Navy to christen future USNS Puerto Rico

Illustration: US Navy photo of USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9) pulling into Baltimore's Inner Harbor

The US Navy will christen its newest Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, on November 10.

“This ship honors the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to our nation and Navy and Marine Corps team,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said.

The future USNS Puerto Rico, designated T-EPF 11, will be the first active ship in naval service to honor the island in the West Indies east of Hispaniola.

An Alaska class cruiser named Puerto Rico (CB-5) was authorized on July 19, 1940, but construction was canceled on June 24, 1943.

With an all-aluminum shallow-draft hull, the EPF is a commercial-based catamaran capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances.

Featuring a length of 103 meters and a width of 28.5 meters, EPF class ships are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ship is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. EPF’s shallow draft (under 15 feet) further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

The EPF program delivered its ninth ship late last year, USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9), with delivery of USNS Burlington (EPF 10) planned for mid-November. Puerto Rico (EPF 11) and Newport (EPF 12) are currently under construction at Austal’s shipyard.

What is more, the navy recently awarded Austal a $57.8 million order to fund the procurement of long lead-time materials for the construction of the 13th EPF.

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