U.S. Navy’s Eighth Expeditionary Fast Transport Christened

USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8), the eighth of the Navy’s expeditionary fast transport vessels designed for rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment, was christened Aug. 20 during a ceremony at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

Military Sealift Command (MSC) will crew and operate Yuma joining the seven other expeditionary fast transport vessels, or EPFs, currently in MSC’s inventory once delivered to the Navy. Yuma will have a crew of 21 civil service mariners working for MSC who will operate, navigate and maintain the ship.

The ship is the fourth to be named after the city in southwestern Arizona, which is known through American history as a crossroads and gateway to the Pacific as well as an expeditionary outpost.

“In the same way, this ship will serve for decades in an expeditionary role, forward deployed, working in austere conditions, and building relationships with our friends and partners,” said Rear Adm. Thomas K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command, during his address to an audience of representatives from the military services, Congress and the maritime industry. “USNS Yuma will carry the spirit and ethos of the city she’s named for, and she’ll carry the strength of our military, anywhere America needs it.”

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Ship sponsor Mrs. Janet Napolitano christens USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8). (Photo: Austal USA)

The 338-foot-long aluminum catamarans are designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in shallow waters, making them ideal an ideal platform for transporting troops and equipment quickly within a theater of operation. The 20,000-square-foot mission bay area aboard EPFs can be reconfigured to quickly adapt to whatever mission the ship is tasked with, such as supporting theater security cooperation missions.

EPFs are capable of transporting 600 tons of military troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment 1,200 nautical miles at a high average speed of 35 knots and can operate in shallow-draft, austere ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility. The EPFs’ aviation flight decks can support day and night flight operations. Each EPF also has sleeping accommodations for up to 146 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312.

Following acceptance trials, delivery to the Navy in early 2017, and operational testing, Yuma will operate in Europe conducting missions for the U.S. Navy.

Seven other EPFs are either currently in service or will soon be operating for MSC, and three more are contracted for construction. USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) recently returned from a four month deployment to Africa and is making preparations to deploy to Central America and the Caribbean. USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2), USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), and USNS Fall River (TEPF 4) are currently forward deployed overseas. USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) and USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), will complete workups and permanently forward deploy in November and January, respectively.

MSC operates approximately 120 non-combatant, U.S. civil service mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

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