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The Gulf Coast has won yet another massive shipbuilding contract.

The U.S. Navy has awarded Mobile, Ala.-based Austal USA a $326 million contract for two additional Alabama-built Expeditionary Fast Transport ships (EPF), versatile, high-speed craft capable of conducting many missions.

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An Expeditionary Fast Transport ship is launched from the Austal shipyard on the Mobile River. (Austal/Special to The Pulse)

The new contract supplements the 2008 10-ship agreement between the Navy and Austal. The new pact adds an 11th and 12th EPF to the program, pushing its value to $1.9 billion. These ships extend Austal’s production under the contract into 2022.

So far, Austal’s shipyard in Mobile has delivered seven EPF ships, with three more under construction at its Alabama headquarters and manufacturing facility.

Last week, the USNS Yuma rolled out of Austal’s final assembly bay and onto the Mobile River.

“We’re excited by not only the U.S. Navy’s commitment to this program but also by the number of diverse missions our delivered EPF ships continue to execute,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said today. “These ships were designed to be a force multiplier and to bring a unique capability to the fleet — they’re doing just that.

“The possible uses of the EPF are endless.”

Range of Missions

Austal says the EPF’s large, open-mission deck and large habitability spaces provide the opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions from engagement and humanitarian assistance to disaster relief, and from maritime security support operations, to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

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An Expeditionary Fast Transport ship is launched from the Austal shipyard on the Mobile River. (Austal/Special to The Pulse)

With a draft of only 13 feet and a unique propulsion system, the EPF is able to access just about any port with minimal external assistance. Add a greater-than 40 knot speed, and the EPF has the potential to support future requirements in special operations, command and control, and medical support.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the work the Austal team has put into making this program what it is today,” Perciavalle said.

“We have a tremendous amount of momentum with the Navy and this program, and we’ll leverage that momentum as we continue to provide highly capable and cost-effective ships to our great Navy.”

The Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) is also produced at the Austal Alabama shipyard, which employs more than 4,000 people.

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