The U.S. Navy has announced that USNS Burlington will carry out a proof-of-concept test: The EPF ship will serve as an afloat forward staging base style platform, transporting a Maintenance Expeditionary Team of active duty sailors and their equipment and repair materials to various Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) locations for scheduled maintenance.
Story by LaShawn Sykes
Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10) departed its hub port in Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story, Va., Saturday, September 26, in support of a three-month deployment in U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.
Serving as an afloat forward staging base style platform, Burlington will transport a Maintenance Expeditionary Team of active duty sailors and their equipment and repair materials to various Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) locations for scheduled maintenance. Destroyer Squadron 40 and Task Force 45 will embark an officer-in-charge to serve as the command element and take tactical control of the vessel to execute the mission.
Burlington was chosen to test a proof-of-concept of operation that capitalizes on the unique capabilities of EPFs to support Planned Maintenance Availabilities (PMAV) of the LCS class ships deployed to U.S. SOUTHCOM.
The EPF compliments the Littoral Combat Ship nicely, said Burlington master, Captain Todd Kutkiewicz:
“Similar to EPFs, LCSs are also designed for high speed intra-theater operations with the additional combat capabilities. The difference between the two ships is that an LCS is a commissioned warship, whereas an EPF is a Naval Auxiliary vessel operated entirely by Civilian Merchant Mariners employed by Military Sealift Command. Despite the difference, together, these ships may prove to be an excellent pairing, and this concept of operation seeks to determine how well the EPF class vessel will support future LCS forward deployed sustainment.”
Captain Todd Kutkiewicz
Burlington is a 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in austere ports, making it ideal for rapidly transporting troops and equipment within a theater of operations. It has the capability to carry up to 300 troops and 600 tons of cargo at high speeds in support of intra-theater sealift and logistics. In addition to reaching maximum speeds of 25-45 knots, EPF-10 is equipped with an expansive flight deck, a load ramp capable of supporting 100 tons of weight, and a 20,000 square-foot mission bay.
EPFs have sleeping accommodations for up to 42 crew members, 104 mission personnel, and an airline-style seating for 312 people. Its aviation flight deck can support day and night flight operations for a wide variety of aircraft, including CH-53 Super Stallions.
EPF-10 is one of 14 EPFs scheduled to be built for the U.S. Navy. It is crewed by 25 civil service mariners working for MSC who operate, navigate and maintain the ship. For this mission, the crew will be accompanied by both active duty sailors and marines.
MSC provides essential assured logistics and service support to the joint warfighter, enabling distributed lethality and maritime dominance as the nation’s premier maritime transportation organization.