A Big Step for US Navy Unmanned Programs: Unmanned EPF Apalachicola

USNS Newport (T-EPF-12) (Photo: Austal)
USNS Newport (T-EPF-12) (Photo: Austal)

Austal USA has secured a contract from the US Department of Defense to carry out the detailed design, procurement, production implementation, and demonstration of autonomous capability in Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel 13 Apalachicola. This could be a very big step for US Navy unmanned programs.

In the future, the ship could be used as an unmanned missile launch platform, ASW platform, radar/sensor carrier, or a mother ship to small drones besides its current missions.

According to a contract published by the U.S. Department of Defense on June 7, 2021, Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a $44,000,000 fixed-price incentive firm-target, undefinitized contract modification to previously awarded contract for the detail design, procurement, production implementation, and demonstration of autonomous capability in Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 13 for U.S. Navy.

Fiscal 2021 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) cost-to-complete funding in the amount of $22,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF-13)

USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF-13) will be the thirteenth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport and will be operated by the Military Sealift Command.  It will be the second ship in naval service named after Apalachicola, Florida.

The Spearhead-class EPF is a 103-meter high-speed aluminum catamaran with a large, 1800 square meter cargo deck, medium-lift helicopter deck, and seating for 300+ embarked troops, providing a fast, high-payload transport capability to combatant commanders around the world. The Austal-designed and built EPFs support a wide range of missions – from maritime security operations to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. An EPF’s flexibility also allows it to support potential future missions, such as special operations, command and control, and primary medical operations.

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USNS Yuma

Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of Navajo-class (T-ATS) Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ship.

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