On Friday 12th November, 2021 the Spearhead Class Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessel USNS TRENTON T-EPF 5 called at Grand Harbour, Malta during her maiden call and the first of the Class to enter Grand Harbour passing breakwaters at 1423 hrs.
The Spearhead class ships is a United States Navy led shipbuilding program to provide “a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intratheater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. The EPF will reach speeds of 35/45 knots and will allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces as well as equipment and supplies.
The vessels are a part of Military Sealift Command’s Sealift Program and the class was previously designated as Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), but was redesignated in September 2015. She proceeded to her berth at Pinto 4 and 5 wharves, part of Valletta Cruise Port in starboard side alongside position.
Spearhead Class are used to support overseas operations, conduct humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and support special operations forces and she has an aviation flight deck of which she had RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system (STUAS) launchers on her deck and can operate in shallow waters.
USNS TRENTON T-EPF 5 was due to call on Wednesday 10th November but due to strong wind conditions she stayed at the NATO Pier, Augusta, Sicily. On Tuesday 16th November around 0900 hrs she shifted to Pinto 3 Wharf port side alongside due to a scheduled cruise liner call.
The EPF is an aluminium hull catamaran with four diesel engines, rudimentary facilities for up to 40 crewmembers, and 312 airline-style passenger seats. The rest of the vessel is a convertible 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) mission bay that can be loaded to carry whatever cargo is needed. Vehicles and cargo are loaded and unloaded by a ramp that can support up to 100 tons of weight. Although designed for a military crew of 46, the ships usually have a crew of just 26 mariners. The passenger room contains reclining seats with overhead televisions and racks for weapons and equipment. Each vessel has 104 permanent berthing spaces. Without resupply, she can support 312 embarked personnel for four days, or 104 personnel for 14 days. The design is a derivative of the Hawaii Superferry, also built by Austal USA. USNS TRENTON completed acceptance trials on 13th March 2015 and was delivered to the United States Navy on 13 April 2015. She’s the fifth vessel from a class of fifteen ( As for Malta Ship Photos we’ve seen 4 already).
Back to 12th June 2018, USNS TRENTON rescued 40 illegal immigrants from a dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. Twelve people died before they were rescued by other ships. When USNS TRENTON along with non-governmental organization (NGO) search and rescue (SAR) ships, sought a disembarkation port, she was initially unable to find a port willing to accept the migrants because Italy and Malta were engaged in a dispute about the acceptance of immigrants. The civilian NGO ship SEA WATCH 3 denied USNS TRENTON’s request to transfer the immigrants, fearing to share the fate of the NGO ship AQUARIUS which had been turned away by Italy and Malta two days earlier on 10th June and had to sail to Spain instead. On the 15th June USNS TRENTON was spotted awaiting orders off the port of Augusta, Sicily and the 40 souls were finally accepted by Italy and were handed over to the Italian Coast Guard vessel CP 941 UBALDO DICIOTTI on 17th June at Lampedusa.
On Thursday 18th November, 2021 at 0953 hrs she left Valletta from Pinto 3 Wharf squeezed by 2 liners AMERA berthed at Pinto 4 and 5 and MSC GRANDIOSA berthed at Pinto 1 and 2 Wharves.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Thursday 25th November, 2021.