US Navy orders more barracks ships from VT Halter Marine

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 $39.8 million contract for the construction of additional units of the new class of barracks ships, the Auxiliary Personnel Lighter – Small (APL(S)).

VT Halter Marine received a $77.9 million contract in September 2018 to design and build the first two units.

This contract modification is for the first of four additional craft that will be built.

As these craft are similar to accommodation barges used in the commercial oil and gas industry, APL(S) are being acquired as a commercial item.

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

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