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The "312 Room" on an Expeditionary Fast Transport built by Austal USA has accommodations for 312 passengers.

The "312 Room" on an Expeditionary Fast Transport built by Austal USA has accommodations for 312 passengers. (Lawrence Specker, al.com/TNS)

MOBILE, Ala. (Tribune News Service) — Austal USA has announced that it has received a $230.5 million contract to build its 16th Expeditionary Fast Transport for the U.S. Navy.

The funding for the ship was included in federal spending bills passed in March after months of negotiations. It was a portion of more than $1 billion in funding allocated to projects in the Mobile area; other major allocations included $330 million for an Expeditionary Medical Ship, the first of its kind, to be designed and built by Austal, and funding for two Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ships to be built on Austal’s new steel construction line.

Austal has delivered 12 of the Expeditionary Fast Transports, a multipurpose catamaran designated the EPF. Three more EPFs are under construction. EPF-13 is being developed as an autonomous vessel. EPF-14 and EPF-15 will feature “Flight II” capabilities, including upgraded medical facilities and a flight deck that can handle V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft as well as helicopters.

EPF-16 also will feature those Flight II upgrades as well, according to information provided by Austal. Work on the ship will begin later this year, with delivery projected for 2025, the shipbuilder said.

“Like the previously delivered EPFs, EPF 16 will benefit from the serial production of this program, resulting not only in a world-class ship but also providing assurance to the U.S. Navy that capability will be delivered on budget and on schedule,” said Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh. “Our reputation for delivering quality is a direct reflection of the commitment and dedication of our talented shipbuilders and suppliers.”

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