July 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's newest auxiliary personnel lighter, a floating berthing vessel, left its Pascagoula, Miss., construction shipyard this week after completion, the branch said on Wednesday.
The APL 67-class "berthing barge," 269 feet long and 68.7 feet wide, will travel to Naval Base San Diego, and eventually to Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, after it was launched from the shipyard of builder VT Halter Marine.
The barge is designed to house up to 611 officers and crew members when their ship is in port or undergoing months-long dry dock maintenance.
It also serves as a temporary residence for crew members who must stay close enough for inter-deployment training cycles and response to emergencies.
The mobile barges are non-powered, but can be towed to new bases or shipyards to support changing fleet requirements, in addition to their use for humanitarian missions and other temporary assignments.
Each is equipped with offices, classrooms, washrooms, laundry facilities, a medical treatment facility, a barber shop and a fitness center, a statement on Wednesday by the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command said.
It is the fourth APL 67-class barge built for the Navy by the company.
"The modern APLs make the lives of our sailors easier while their ships are in port for maintenance or training events," said John Lighthammer, of the Sea Systems Command,
"We look forward to continuing to get these vessels delivered to the fleet to provide support while our Sailors focus on mission," Lighthammer said.
The Navy currently owns and operates about 70 berthing barges, NAVSEA noted in 2017, many of which are conversions of World War II-era personnel transport vessels. Thirteen are entering their seventh decade of service, officials said.