MOBILE, Ala. - Austal USA hosted a ceremony today
celebrating the keel authentication of the Navy's eighth Expeditionary Fast
Transport ship, the USNS Yuma (EPF 8).
The keel was said to be "truly and fairly laid"
as it was authenticated by the Honorable Douglas Nicholls, Mayor of Yuma, Ariz.
by welding his initials into the keel plate. Authentication represents a major
milestone in the ship's construction as the keel is the symbolic backbone of a
"We are honored to have Mayor Nicholls here for this
exciting event," said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic and Theater Sealift
Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "I look forward to
working with the Mayor, the city of Yuma, and Austal as the ship continues to
progress towards delivery."
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.
EPFs support a variety of missions including the overseas
contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,
supporting special operations forces, and supporting emerging joint sea-basing
Yuma will be capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200
nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The vessel will also include a
flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations.
The ship will have airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces with fixed
berthing for 104.
As one of the Defense Department's largest
acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the
development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission
and support ships, and boats and craft.