The US Navy’s Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) has been commissioned to the US 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO).
The vessel is the first of its kind to have been forward deployed to the region following a routine transit of the Suez Canal.
Built by Austal USA, it was deployed into the US Navy in June 2013, after completing sea trials in May of the same year.
The 103.0m-long vessel is propelled by diesel engines and reduction gears and can achieve speeds of up to 43k.
It is mainly a non-combatant vessel with a civilian crew, and is equipped with a flight deck to support the launch and landing of helicopters and a loading ramp to enable quick unloading and offloading of vehicles in the ship.
USNS Choctaw is also equipped with a fast-rescue boat fastened midship on the port side and features airline-style seating to accommodate 312 embarked forces, with fixed berthing for 104.
The ship will be under the authority of the commander of the Task Force (CTF) 53.
It will be tasked with a range of missions in the US 5th Fleet AOO and will also provide a series of flexible and adaptable capabilities aimed at promoting CTF 53’s theatre security cooperation efforts, maritime security operations and provide crisis response.
USNS Choctaw County conducted proof-of-concept testing during Exercise Bold Alligator 2014 as an afloat forward staging base style platform.
Image: USNS Choctaw County to be deployed in US 5th Fleet AOO. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mike Lenart/Released.