The US Navy has launched its ninth Austal-built expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessel known as the USNS City of Bismarck (EPF 9) in Mobile, Alabama.

The naval vessel underwent a multi-step proces prior to being launched, having been transported from a modular manufacturing facility to a docking barge, and then shifted to a dry dock where it could be finally submerged in the water.

Program Executive Office Ships Strategic Theatre and Sealift programme manager captain Henry Stevens said: “Launching the ninth ship in the EPF production line is a great achievement for the navy and Austal.

“Launching is a significant achievement in the production process; we'll now focus our efforts to final outfitting in preparation for trials.”

USNS City of Bismarck has been designed to facilitate the speedy intra-theatre transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment.

The EPF vessel can carry a load of 600 short tonnes for 1,200nm at an average speed of 35k.

EPF ships are equipped with a flight deck and an off-load ramp, which enables vehicles and helicopters to quickly access ports and quays.

"Launching is a significant achievement in the production process; we’ll now focus our efforts to final outfitting in preparation for trials."

The vessel’s 15ft shallow draft, as well as its ability to interface with roll-on / roll-off discharge facilities and easy access to austere and deteriorated piers will help improve littoral operations and port access.

It has the capability to carry out a wide range of operations, including non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

The US Navy previously conducted keel authentication of USNS City of Bismarck in January, which saw the vessel's keel laid by North Dakota former attorney general Robert O Wefald.

In addition, the navy started fabrication for its 11th EPF in the same month, which will be named USNS Puerto Rico.

Image: The US Navy's USNS City of Bismarck (EPF 9), the ninth EPF vessel, launched in Mobile, Alabama. Photo: courtesy of David Stoltz, US Navy / Released.