The Navy has awarded Austal USA a $44 million contract to build an autonomous prototype of an expeditionary fast transport ship, the company announced Monday.
Austal’s expeditionary fast transport ship Apalachicola (EPF 13) will primarily operate autonomously while retaining manned operation capability.
To transition the ship into an autonomous vessel, Austal will install a perception and autonomy control suite, and make automation enhancements to the machinery plant.
Austal USA Interim President Rusty Murdaugh said in the company’s press release that the expeditionary fast transport’s capabilities have improved significantly over time.
“The potential of the EPF to operate unmanned opens the door to a range of new missions for the EPF ranging from logistics support to mine warfare and strike operations using vertical launch systems (VLS),” he said.