Report: EPF problems could prevent them from accomplishing mission


(WASHINGTON) — The Defense Department's inspector general has found that the Navy's expeditionary fast transports (EPFs) have performance problems that could prevent them from accomplishing their mission, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The report, released on Wednesday, cited 28 deficiencies with the EPF class, all but nine of which could have a significant impact on missions. The aluminum catamarans, featuring a large cargo area and a flight deck for helicopters and drones, were designed to respond to a wide variety of military missions and also can be used in evacuations and disaster relief.

Regarding cargo capacity, the EPFs were supposed to be able to carry 1.2 million pounds of cargo for 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, according to the report. But initial testing showed the ships were only able to carry that amount for 769 nautical miles at an average speed of 31 knots.

Another major problem had to do with controls that involve the secure exchange of information.

"Cybersecurity vulnerabilities could potentially lead to hackers disabling or taking control of systems, preventing the EPF vessel from accomplishing its missions," the report said.

Another problem inspectors found with the ships is that equipment cannot be transferred from one to another as expected, especially in rougher seas.

"The EPF vessel could only conduct vehicle transfers when waves were 0.3 meters or less, a condition normally only found in protected harbors," the report says.

Since 2008, the Navy has purchased 12 EPFs from defense contractor Austal USA. By last summer, Austal had delivered eight of the ships. The other four are expected by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

Click here to read the story. Click here to read the inspector general's report.

By Professional Mariner Staff