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By Team Ships Public Affairs
The Navy’s newest Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), the future USNS Yuma (EPF 8), was launched from the Austal USA shipyard Sept. 17.
During the multi-step launch process, the ship was translated from the Modular Manufacturing Facility onto a moored docking barge Sept. 16 where it was then transported to a dry dock to be submerged and enter the water for the first time the following day.
"With Yuma in the water, we can begin working with our shipbuilders on the final outfitting for the ship," said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic Theater and Sealift Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "This milestone brings us a step closer to activating the ship systems and getting her out to sea for trials."
EPF 8 is designed for the fast intra-theatre transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. Capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, the ship will provide U.S. forces with added mobility and flexibility.
EPFs are equipped with a flight deck and an off-load ramp which allow for vehicles and helicopters to quickly access ports and quays. Littoral operations and port access are further enhanced by the ship’s 15-foot shallow draft, ability to interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and ease of access to austere and deteriorated piers. This makes EPF 8 an extremely flexible asset, capable of supporting a wide range of operations including non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
This year, the Navy and Austal marked major milestones on the EPF program. USNS Brunswick (EPF 6) delivered to the Navy in January. USNS Carson City (EPF 7) was christened and launched in January, underwent sea trials in May, and was delivered to the Navy in June. Yuma’s keel was authenticated in March, christened in August, and prepares for delivery in early 2017. In addition, Austal was awarded construction contracts for the next two ships, EPF 11 and EPF 12 on Sept. 15.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.