The US Navy’s newest expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessel, the future USNS Puerto Rico (EPF 11), has completed acceptance trials.

USNS Puerto Rico, which is the 11th Austal designed and built EPF vessel, was underway in the Gulf of Mexico for two days and returned to the Austal USA shipyard after completing sea trials on 22 August.

The trials involved the integration of builder’s and acceptance trials, allowing completion costs to be reduced.

A key benefit of the integrated approach is that Austal demonstrated the EPF’s operational capability and readiness in a single underway period.

It represented the first time the two trials were combined on an EPF vessel.

Austal CEO David Singleton said: “The future USNS Puerto Rico successfully completed and passed all tests, a clean sweep, and returned from sea earlier than scheduled, a testament to the effort and expertise of Austal USA’s professional shipbuilding team and the US Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).”

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The trials tested the performance of all major systems on the USNS Puerto Rico.

Program Executive Office Ships Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager captain Scot Searles said: “The EPF programme continues to be an example of stable and successful serial ship production. I look forward to seeing EPF 11 deliver in the fall and expand the operational flexibility available to our combatant commanders.”

The sea trials mark the final key milestone in the programme before the vessel is delivered to the US Navy by the end of this year.

Other Spearhead-class EPF ships under production at the Mobile, Alabama shipyard include the future USNS Newport (EPF 12), the future USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13) and EPF 14.

The EPFs can be used in support of several missions ranging from engagement and humanitarian assistance or disaster relief missions.

The ships also have the ability to support future missions such as special operations support, command and control, and medical support operations.