PARIS, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A shape-shifting, catamaran-type vessel for amphibious warfare has joined French naval forces.
The Mistral class Engin de Debarquement Amphibie Rapide -- EDA-R -- features two engine-fitted side hulls for sailing and a raised, above the water, cargo floor that can be lowered to offload supplies ashore.
The EDA-R is a derivative of the L-CAT landing catamaran by CNIM -- Constructions Industrielles de la Mediterranee -- of France.
"This remarkable engineering feat combines the performance of a catamaran with the payload of a floating bridge and represents a world 'first' in the field of landing technology," the French navy said.
The ship is more than 98 feet long and 42 feet in the beam. It can carry up to 100 tons of cargo and has a payload speed of about 18 knots.
The French navy said its cargo landing capacity is five times greater than conventional landing craft in use.
Four production EDA-R vessels were ordered from CNIM in 2008, with an option for additional vessels.
The remaining three EDA-Rs in the initial order are scheduled for delivery by the middle of next year.
This first EDA-R will be followed by three more, whose delivery to the amphibious flotilla will be completed by mid-2012.