The launching of a ship represents a multi-step process. The ship is constructed in a Modular Manufacturing Facility and is moved to a docking barge and then transported to a dry dock where it can be submerged into the water. All of this takes place over the course of two days.

"Launching the ninth ship in the EPF production line is a great achievement for the Navy and Austal," said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic Theater and Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "Launching is a significant achievement in the production process. We'll now focus our efforts to final outfitting in preparation for trials."

EPF 9 is designed for the fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. Capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, the ship will provide U.S. forces with added mobility and flexibility.

EPFs are equipped with a flight deck and an off-load ramp which allow for vehicles and helicopters to quickly access ports and quays. Littoral operations and port access are further enhanced by the ship's 15-foot shallow draft, ability to interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and ease of access to austere and deteriorated piers. This makes EPF 9 an extremely flexible asset, capable of supporting a wide range of operations including non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

The Navy and industry partner Austal USA have already marked major milestones on the EPF program this year. USNS Yuma (EPF 8) delivered in April and the Navy christened USNS City of Bismarck (EPF 9) the following month. Austal is also under contract for the construction of EPF 11 and EPF 12.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and boats and craft.

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