Transport, Sealift Ships Being Delivered at ‘Pretty Good Pace’
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Capt. Henry Stevens, program manager, Strategic Theater and Sealift Program Office, PEO Ships (PMS 385), provided an update on three specific Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) product lines — the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) and the Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) — during an April 4 briefing.
From the NAVSEA booth on the floor of the Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Stevens told attendees, “At PMS 385, we’re all about delivering ships at this point. We have delivered 10 ships so far and are getting ready to deliver the 11th ship. Ten ships in less than four years — that is a pretty good pace. They are in service around the globe.”
Stevens said three more ships will be added to the portfolio, among them EPF 11 and 12, which are under contract and under construction. He said an ESP 5 is also under construction.
“In FY [fiscal year] ’16, while it was an exciting year doing contracting and getting more ships under contract and under construction, really a lot of what we did was out at sea on USNS Lewis B. Puller, [including] initial operational test and evaluation,” Stevens said. “She is getting ready for going overseas and tasking.”
Steven expanded on some of Lewis Puller’s (T-ESB 3) features, including her flexible platform for any variety of capability that a team might want to bring on board. He said the vessel has an acre and a half of deck space below, and a flight deck above that has a helicopter hanger than can house up to two H53s inside.
“We can have any type of embarked force onboard that needs to operate from sea,” he added.
Stevens said EPFs continue to do well globally in different fleets around the world whether in theater, or for high-speed transport with helicopter capabilities through H-53s landing on the deck. Likewise, he said, ESDs are “out there globally doing their work.”
Stevens said PMS 385 vessels around the world are being used as they were intended.
“They perform all those missions that they were advertised to do, but what we continue to find is that the ships can provide additional capability and flexibility for our Navy,” Stevens said. “And so we see them doing things such as ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], humanitarian assistance, theater security cooperation, international partnership operations and the like.”