The US Navy is set to christen its newest Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

Once commissioned, the future USNS Puerto Rico will serve as the first active vessel in the service to honour the island in the West Indies east of Hispaniola. The christening ceremony is due to take place on 10 November.

US Navy Secretary Richard V Spencer said: “This ship honours the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to our nation and navy and Marine Corps team.

“USNS Puerto Rico will provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility and I am thankful for this ship, her crew, and our industrial force teammates whose service makes this great ship possible.”

Designed to carry 600 short tonnes of military cargo, T-EPF 11 can travel at a range of 1,200nm and an average speed of 35k.

“USNS Puerto Rico will provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility.”

In addition, the US Navy vessel is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on / roll-off discharge facilities, and on / off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).

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An EPF is a commercial-based catamaran that is capable of intra-theatre personnel and cargo lift.

This would provide combatant commanders with high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability to ensure a positional advantage over operational distances.

The US Navy received its ninth EPF, the USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9), late last year.  Delivery of the tenth vessel, the future USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10), is expected in the middle of this month.

T-EPF 11 and T-EPF 12 are currently under construction at Austal shipyard.

In August, keel on the Spearhead-class ship T-EPF 11 was laid in Mobile.