US Navy’s 13th Spearhead-Class Ship Completes Acceptance, Unmanned Trials

The 13th Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13) has completed its acceptance and unmanned logistics prototype trials, the US Navy announced.

The trials consisted of in-part and at-sea tests to assess the vessel’s systems and readiness before being delivered to the command later this year.

“The completion of this milestone is another win for our Navy and industry partners and a testament to the hard work of our shipbuilding team,” Program Executive Office Strategic & Theater Sealift Manager Tim Roberts said.

“USNS Apalachicola will enhance the operational flexibility needed by our Sailors,” he continued.

The unmanned logistics prototype trial assessed the shipboard’s autonomous configuration for Apalachicola’s self-driving capability.

The ship also completed a stress test in high-traffic coastal areas, traveling at 85 percent autonomous mode from Mobile, Alabama, to Miami, Florida.

“The ability to expand unmanned concepts into the existing fleet was validated by these trials,” Roberts said. “The capabilities integrated onto EPF 13 set the groundwork for future autonomous operations.”

The vessel’s autonomous capability was developed through the collaboration of Austal USA, L3 Harris, and General Dynamics.

Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF)

The EPF is a shallow draft, commercially-based catamaran built for quick intra-theater personnel and cargo transport.

The vessel can load and unload in austere ports, providing a logistics advantage across intermediate distances without relying on shore-based infrastructure.

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