The US Navy (USN) accepted delivery of its eighth Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, USNS YUMA, on 21 April. EPFs are shallow-draft, all-aluminium, commercial-based catamarans capable of intra-theatre personnel and cargo transport. They provide combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility and enable rapid projection and agile manoeuvre and transport of personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances, offering access to harsh and degraded offload points.

As versatile, non-combatant vessels, EPFs provide increased operational flexibility for a wide range of activities including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations, and flexible logistics support. These vessels can interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and are capable of on/off-loading a combat-loaded ABRAMS MBT. They include a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations and airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces, with fixed berthing for 104. USNS YUMA will be owned and operated by Military Sealift Command.

USNS YUMA was constructed by Austal USA, which is currently under contract for the construction of four additional EPFs. A christening ceremony is scheduled for CITY OF BISMARCK (EPF 9) next month, with a keel laying ceremony planned for BURLINGTON (EPF 10) early this summer. Contracts for EPFs 11 and 12 were awarded in September 2016 and are currently in the early stages of production.

Douglas Nicholls, Mayor of Yuma, AZ, etches his initials into the keel plate of the USNS YUMA EPF. (Photo: US Navy)

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