The U.S. Navy has awarded Austal USA a $44 million fixed-price, undefinitised contract for the design, procurement, production implementation and demonstration of autonomous capability on Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 13, USNS Apalachicola, the first EPF vessel to be equipped for autonomous operation.
Austal USA is constructing 15 Spearhead-class EPF vessels for the U.S. Navy and has delivered twelve EPFs since December 2012. EPF 13 is currently under construction at Austal USA’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard.
Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said the highly-anticipated contract was another significant, strategic step towards greater autonomous vessel capability.
“Austal noted in our half year results presentation that the funding for an autonomous EPF conversion contract had been appropriated in the USA Government 2021 Budget, so we are pleased that it has now been converted into a formal contract,” Mr Gregg said.
“Winning a $44 million contract is welcome from a revenue perspective, but strategically this contract award is even more significant for Austal.”
The Spearhead-class EPF is a 103-metre high-speed aluminium catamaran with a large, 1800 square metre cargo deck, medium-lift helicopter deck and seating for 300+ embarked troops. The Austal-designed and built EPFs support a wide range of missions – from maritime security operations to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Two EPF’s are currently under construction at Austal USA’s shipyard – the USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13) and the USNS Cody (EPF 14).