In the words of the future USNS Newport ship sponsor, long-time Newport resident Charlotte Marshall, today, “Let’s get this party started,” and with one whack of the bottle, the ship was officially christened.

Newport City Councilor Lynn Ceglie was on hand for the event this morning in Alabama, she told What’s Up Newp following the ceremony, “It was such an honor to represent the City of Newport at the ceremonial mast stepping and christening of the USNS Newport (EPF 12), an Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel built by Austal in Mobile, Alabama.   The delegation was led by Charlotte Marshall, the sponsor of the USNS Newport and Admiral Chatfield, President of the Naval War College”.  

“It’s an awesome day at Austal when we christen one of our amazing Navy ships,” said Austal USA President, Craig Perciavalle in a statement. “Like the Navy’s other EPF vessels, Newport is destined for great things with the support she’ll soon provide to the global fleet.” 

“Excellent Navy – Industry teamwork resulted in the achievement of this important milestone,” continued Perciavalle. “The team here is one of the best in the industry, as evidenced by the success of the EPF program, and we should be proud of how well we are directly supporting the strengthening of our Navy.”

“This ship honors the city of Newport, Rhode Island, and serves as a reminder of the contributions the community has and continues to make to our Navy,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer earlier this week. “Newport is a Navy town where many officers begin their careers and then return later for strategic training. It is right that a fourth ship will bear the name Newport to continue our long relationship, and provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility in the fight to defend our nation.”

Update: On November 11th, Austal provided the following update and press release; Austal USA Christens Future USNS Newport [EPF12];

Austal Limited (ASX:ASB) is pleased to announce that Austal USA has christened the twelfth Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), the future USNS Newport (EPF 12), at a ceremony held over the weekend at its state-of-the-art ship manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama.

Newport is the twelfth of fourteen EPF’s that Austal has under contract with the U.S. Navy, 10 of which have been delivered with the remaining 4 in various stages of construction.

Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said the Expeditionary Fast Transport is a successful, mature naval vessel program, adding great capability and support to U.S. Navy operations around the world.

“Austal USA is doing an outstanding job, constructing these highly-versatile vessels efficiently and consistently, to the highest standards. We couldn’t be prouder of the fact that of the 10 EPFs delivered in just over 10 years, seven are currently deployed to US Navy operations around the world, demonstrating the broad application and effectiveness of the platform,” he said.

The future USNS Newport was officially christened by ship sponsor, Charlotte Marshall and was named after Newport, Rhode Island – home to U.S. Naval Station Newport and the Naval War College.

The 103 metre EPF is capable of transporting 312 embarked troops and 600 short tons of cargo up to 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ships can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-load a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2).

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allows vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. EPF’s shallow draft further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of military and other (humanitarian and disaster relief) operations to small or damaged ports.

Ships’ sponsor Charlotte Marshall smashing the champagne bottle at the christening ceremony for the future USNS Newport (EPF12) at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. (Image: Austal USA)

The first Newport (Gunboat No. 12) was commissioned October 5, 1897. During the Spanish-American War, she received credit for assisting in the capture of nine Spanish vessels. The ship was decommissioned in 1898, but recommissioned in 1900 to serve as a training ship at the Naval Academy and at the Naval Training Station at Newport, R.I., until decommissioning in Boston in 1902.

The second Newport (PF-27) was commissioned Sept. 8, 1944 and decommissioned in September 1945 and loaned to the U.S.S.R. under Lend-Lease and returned to United States custody at Yokosuka, Japan, in November 1949. Recommissioned in July 1950, Newport patrolled off Inchon, Korea, screening during the landings. Decommissioned at Yokosuka in April 1952, she was loaned to Japan in 1953, and commissioned as Kaede (PF-13). She was then reclassified PF-293 and transferred to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force outright in August 1962.

The third Newport (LST-1179) was commissioned on June 7, 1969. Assigned to the Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Newport alternated amphibious training operations along the east coast of the United States with extended deployments to the Caribbean and Mediterranean. She was decommissioned in October 1992, and transferred to the government of Mexico in 2001.

EPF class ships are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ship is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. EPF’s shallow draft (less than 15 feet) further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

Austal USA is an advanced ship manufacturer headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, with operations in San Diego, Seattle, Portland, and Singapore. Its headquarters and manufacturing facility are located on its state-of-the-art campus designed uniquely with moving assembly lines for module construction and guided by lean manufacturing principles. Austal USA is positioned to support both commercial and government ship construction as well as services and support worldwide. The company is under contract with the U.S. Navy to build the advanced small surface combatant Independence-variant littoral combat ship and the auxiliary ship expeditionary fast transport. With excellence awards in five consecutive years, Austal USA continues to be one of the safest shipyards in America and was ranked by Forbes as the 49th best midsize employer in the U.S.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.