Story by Bill Mesta on 12/20/2018NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 11, 2017) Later this month USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9) will join the fleet as part of a class of ships that is quickly becoming recognized as adaptable and innovative. As the world's oceans become more heavily trafficked and more contested, this adaptability and innovation will be meeting our Navy's future requirements and missions.
USNS City of Bismarck will be the ninth of 12 EPFs. As one of the Navy's newest ship classes, the non-combatant EPFs provide warfighters with a ship that can be configured and reconfigured to take on any number of missions from its transport mission, to quickly delivering Marines and their equipment to the battlefield, to providing a low-cost intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. This also allows fleet commanders the luxury of freeing up combatant vessels such as destroyers and amphibious ships to focus on their primary mission: fighting and winning America's wars.
EPFs are Adaptable and Flexible
Adaptable and flexible, EPFs are designed to operate in austere ports and waterways and are capable of supporting a wide variety of missions ranging from the transport of containerized portable hospitals, tanks and troops, to time-critical support for humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations.
All EPFs are 338-foot-long aluminum catamarans, complete with a 20,000-square-foot mission bay area that reconfigures quickly through the use of Adaptive Force Packages (AFP). These ships feature a flight deck capable of landing a CH-53 helicopter, a slewing stern ramp for vehicle access to the mission deck and seating for 312 passengers. All EPFs are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. EPFs have a crew of 26 civil service mariners, with airline-style seating for 312 embarked troops and fixed berthing for an additional 104 military personnel.
Because of EPF's high speed and reconfigurable design, commanders are continuing to identity innovative ways to operate these unique ships.
EPFs Support Commanders Worldwide
Some of the EPF's more recent accomplishments include:
Maintaining Forward Presence. EPFs not only conduct theater security cooperation efforts, but also support maritime security operations and their forward presence provides instant response in a crisis. EPF's routinely support TSC through participation in Africa Partnership Station, exercise Balikatan, exercise Cobra Gold, Continuing Promise, Pacific Partnership, and Southern Partnership Station, to name a few. USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) continues to provide logistical services in the Middle East while USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) and USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) are supporting maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response. While deployed in support of Southern Partnership Station 2017, USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) was called upon to support disaster response efforts following Hurricane Irma's destruction in the Caribbean. USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) along with the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) deployed providing humanitarian assistance in support of Pacific Partnership 2015.
Counter-Illicit Trafficking Detection and Monitoring. USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) also performed detection and monitoring patrols in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, providing Joint Interagency Task Force South and the U.S. Coast Guard with additional patrol for drug trafficking.
Global Support. EPFs are already supporting commanders worldwide with additional ships to be delivered in the coming years:
USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) Atlantic
USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) Arabian Gulf
USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) Western Pacific
USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4) Western Pacific
USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) Atlantic/Mediterranean
USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) Western Pacific
USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) Atlantic/Mediterranean
USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8) Mediterranean
USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9) (expected delivery December 2017)
USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10) (under construction; expected delivery July 2018) Atlantic
USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11) (programmed; expected delivery in March 2019) Central/Western Pacific
T-EPF 12 (To Be Named) (programmed; expected delivery September 2019) Area of Operations TBD
Once delivered to MSC, USNS City of Bismarck is scheduled to head to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story for additional certifications prior to being deployed to the Pacific.