A high-speed Navy catamaran moved about 300 evacuees from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, arriving in the port of Jeddah Monday, USNI News has learned.
USNS Brunswick (EPF-6) left the Port of Sudan with about 300 people aboard, bound for Jeddah, traveling 180 miles across the Red Sea, two defense officials told USNI News. The transport arrived at about 9 a.m. local time on Monday, according to Marine Traffic.
Brunswick, a 1,500-ton aluminum high-speed catamaran, is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and could make the trip across the Red Sea in about four hours.
In a statement, U.S. AFRICOM spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Pietrack told USNI News, “I can confirm that USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) arrived in Port Sudan Sunday afternoon, April 30. Brunswick is supporting the Department of State’s ongoing efforts to evacuate [and] assist U.S. citizens and others who have requested departure from Sudan.”
A spokesman for U.S. 5th Fleet confirmed to USNI News that about 300 evacuees had arrived in Jeddah on Monday. Given the short trip and the capacity of Brunswick, people familiar with the ship told USNI News that it could take 600 more across the Red Sea in an extreme situation.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a USNI News request about how many of the evacuees were American or other nationalities.
Reuters reported Brunswick was docked in Sudan on Sunday.
Brunswick is one of the Navy’s 13 Spearhead-class fast transports that were built to ferry troops and material at high speeds as an intra-theater connector and was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The Spearhead-class are operated by U.S. Military Sealift Command with a crew of civilian mariners.
U.S. Navy officials also confirmed to USNI News Monday that USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) was now in the Red Sea. Based on an Alaska-class oil tanker, Puller serves as an expeditionary sea base for mine countermeasures and special operation forces. Based in Bahrain, Puller has a massive flight deck and can host several helicopters and the tilt-rotor MV-22B Osprey. The exact composition of assets embarked on Puller isn’t clear.