Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker announced July 16 that a future Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) ship will be named to honor the San Diego seaside community of Point Loma.
The future USNS Point Loma (T-EPF-15) will be the second naval vessel to bear this name, the first being a deep submergence support ship that was decommissioned in 1993. Currently, eight Navy vessels honor the state of, or a location in, California.
“It is my honor to recognize the enduring support of the community and residents of Point Loma, who for generations have provided the Navy and Marine Corps with critical support and infrastructure integral to the Department of the Navy’s mission,” said Harker. “So many Sailors and Marines have called this community home, and like I, a California native, have seen and felt the support from this community. The crew of the future USNS Point Loma will honor this time-honored relationship, and will continue to serve this community and the nation for generations to come.”
The name selection follows the naval tradition of honoring small American cities or communities with ties to the Navy. The community of Point Loma has a long-standing naval presence, beginning in 1901 with the establishment of the Naval Coaling Station, La Playa, which later became Naval Supply Center San Diego, Point Loma Annex in 1943. The Naval Training Center San Diego in Point Loma served as a basic training facility for over seven decades, and the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is the site of a monument for Sailors killed in a boiler explosion on board USS Bennington (Gunboat No. 4) in 1905.
Currently, Naval Base Point Loma comprises six installations and provides support to 70 U.S. Pacific Fleet afloat and shore based tenant commands headquartered on the base.
The future T-EPF-15 is the last of the 15 EPFs awarded to the Navy, with the first delivered in 2012. The Navy has accepted delivery of 12 EPFs with USNS Newport (T-EPF-12) being the most recent delivery in Sept. 2020. Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, was awarded the contract to build T-EPF-15 in February 2021.
EPFs are commercial-based catamarans designed to be highly capable and affordable, allowing flexibility to the fleet with their ability to access harsh ports with minimal external assistance. EPFs maintain a variety of roles including humanitarian assistance, maritime security and disaster relief, among others. The vessel is designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, and includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allow vehicles to drive off the ship. The future T-EPF-15 will also include an expeditionary medical capability.
Along with announcing the ship’s name, Harker also recognized the future USNS Point Loma’s sponsor, Beth Asher, who in her role as the ship’s sponsor will represent a lifelong relationship with the ship and crew.