The first U.S. Navy ship named for an island in the West Indies east of Hispanola. Large cruiser Puerto Rico (CB–5) was authorized on 19 July 1940, and was to be built by New York Shipbuilding Corp., in Camden, N.J.; but her construction was cancelled on 24 June 1943. In addition, the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration announced on 27 January 2012 that it had transferred high speed vessel Alakai to the Military Sealift Command (MSC). On 9 May 2012, Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr., announced that Alakai was renamed Puerto Rico (T-HST-2). The vessel remained in caretaker status, however, at Philadelphia, Pa., until 24 March 2016, when the MSC approved an 18-month enhanced use lease to Bay Ferries, Ltd., a Canadian firm that intends to operate Puerto Rico between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
(T-EPF-11: displacement 2,362; length 338'; beam 93.5'; draft 13'; speed 35+ knots; complement 22, troop capacity 312; aircraft landing pad for 1 Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk; class Spearhead)
On 15 September 2016, the Navy awarded Austal USA the contract to build expeditionary fast transport T-EPF-11 at the company’s facility at Mobile, Ala. Secretary of the Navy Mabus announced the assignment of the name Puerto Rico to T-EPF-11 during a ceremony at the District of Columbia city hall in Washington, D.C., on 14 December 2016. The ship was laid down on 9 August 2018; and is sponsored by Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor.
The MSC will operate the ship, which can embark a company of marines or soldiers. Puerto Rico is a shallow draft aluminum catamaran that has a flight deck for helicopter operations, and a loading ramp to enable vehicles to quickly drive on and off the ship. The ramp is designed to accommodate the limited piers and quay walls often encountered in developing countries.
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
13 August 2018