Thursday, November 08, 2018

Navy to Christen Expeditionary Fast Transport Puerto Rico

The Navy will christen its newest Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony Saturday, November 10, at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

The principal speaker is congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States will serve as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she will christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

“This ship honors the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to our nation and Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer.  “USNS Puerto Rico will provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility and I am thankful for this ship, her crew, and our industrial force teammates whose service makes this great ship possible."

The future USNS Puerto Rico, designated T-EPF 11, will be the first active ship in naval service to honor the island in the West Indies east of Hispaniola. An Alaska class cruiser named Puerto Rico (CB-5) was authorized July 19, 1940, but construction was cancelled June 24, 1943.

With an all-aluminum shallow-draft hull, the EPF is a commercial-based catamaran capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances.

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 (under 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.

The EPF program delivered its ninth ship late last year, USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9), with delivery of USNS Burlington (EPF 10) planned for mid-November. Puerto Rico (EPF 11) and Newport (EPF 12) are currently under construction at Austal's shipyard.

Former Recruiter of U.S. Military Language Interpreters Indicted for Alleged Scheme That Resulted in Unqualified Language Interpreters Being Deployed with U.S. Combat Forces in Afghanistan

A former recruiter of U.S. military language interpreters was charged in an indictment filed today for his role in an alleged scheme to recruit unqualified language interpreters to be deployed with U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko.

Abdul Aman, 34, of Fairfax, Virginia, was charged in the District of Maryland with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and one count of major fraud against the United States.  Aman will be arraigned on the charges on Nov. 8.

The indictment alleges that Aman, while working as a recruiter for a U.S. government contractor, circumvented procedures designed to ensure that candidates for jobs as language interpreters for the U.S. military met minimum proficiency standards, which resulted in unqualified language interpreters being hired and later deployed alongside U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan.  Aman’s employer was a subcontractor on a multimillion-dollar Defense Department contract to supply qualified language interpreters to support U.S. military operations around the world.  To carry out the fraud, the indictment alleges, Aman arranged for a close associate to take language tests for candidates who Aman knew did not meet minimum proficiency standards. Aman allegedly obtained financial bonuses from his employer based on the number of candidates whom his employer hired through his efforts.

This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael P. McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.