The expeditionary fast transport vessel Austal USA built for the U.S. Navy completed a series of builder’s and acceptance trials on Thursday, 22 August. The future USNS Puerto Rico, designated EPF 11, returned to the company’s shipyard after two days of integrated sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico.
Conducting integrated trials enabled builder Austal USA to demonstrate to Navy Puerto Rico’s operational capability and mission readiness of all ship systems during a single two-day underway, according to the Navy.
Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships are non-combatant vessels designed to operate in shallow-draft 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.
EPF ships support a range of missions including the overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces, and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
EPFs such as Puerto Rico will have a crew of 26 civilian mariners. With airline-style seating, an EPF can carry 312 troops for intratheater lift.
Sea trials are the last milestone before delivery of the ship. The future USNS Puerto Rico is scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Navy before the end of the year and is the eleventh Spearhead Class ship in Austal’s 14-ship EPF portfolio.