Austal USA delivered the USNS Yuma, the eigth Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, to the U.S. Navy. The EPF program provides the Navy with providing high-speed, high-payload transport capability to fleet and combatant commanders.
The 338-foot long Yuma is an aluminum catamaran capable of transporting 600 tons, 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and is designed to operate in austere ports and waterways, providing added flexibility to U.S. warfighters worldwide. The ship’s flight deck can also support flight operations for a wide variety of aircraft, including a CH-53 Super Stallion.
Around 700 tonnes of aluminum in the form of plate, extrusions, and forgings is used in the construction of the Yuma. Custom panels created by friction stir welding are joined with custom extrusions using a combination of TIG and gas metal arc welding. Although no surface treatment is used above the waterline, the hull is painted below the waterline. Aluminum provides a strong weight ratio and enables Austal to produce a ship that can efficiently achieve high speeds with a shallow draft. The structure weight of an aluminum ship is approximately half that of a steel ship and is comparable to fiberglass. Other benefits of using aluminum in marine applications is that it is also easy to form, resistant to corrosion, doesn’t require paint to protect the surface, can be welded with well-established commercial processes, and is easy to repair.
“It’s so exciting to see Yuma join the fleet; an incredible ship built by incredible people”. Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “What’s even more exciting is seeing how our U.S. Navy is taking these great platforms and expanding their mission sets to support a wide variety of operational needs – demonstrating their value and versatility to our forward deployed Naval forces across the globe.”
Upon delivery of USNS Yuma, three additional Spearhead-class EPFs were under construction at Austal’s Mobile, AL, shipyard. The City of Bismarck (EPF 9) was christened in May, representing the ninth of 12 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF) that Austal has under contract with the U.S. Navy as part of a contract worth over $1.9 billion. The modules for Burlington (EPF 10) and Puerto Rico (EPF 11) are under construction in Austal’s module manufacturing facility.
In addition to the EPF program, Austal is also under contract to build Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) — high-speed and agile 419-foot aluminum trimaran combat ships — for the U.S. Navy. Five LCS have been delivered while an additional six are in various stages of construction.