Austal USA starts fabrication of US Navy new Expeditionary Fast Transport ship USNS Cody T-EFP 14

According to information released on the Twitter account of Austal on October 20, 2020, Austal USA started the fabrication of the U.S. Navy’s newest Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, the future USNS Cody (T-EPF 14). The start of fabrication signifies the procurement of materials and components, and the shipyard’s ability to begin fabrication on the hull.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 U.S. Navy’s newest Expeditionary Fast Transport ship USNS Cody T-EPF 14. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

In April 2019, it was announced that Austal Limited was awarded a new A$369 (US$261) million contract for two additional Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships (EPF) by the U.S. Navy.

The contract award extends the EPF program to 2022, with the construction of EPF 13 to commence in late 2019 and EPF 14 to follow in the middle of 2020. The contract follows the award for long-lead time materials on EPF 13 and EPF 14 that was announced in December 2018.

USNS Cody (T-EPF-14) will be the fourteenth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport and will be operated by the Military Sealift Command.

The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) is a United States Navy–led shipbuilding program to provide "a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intra-theater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads.

The EPF is able to transport U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles or can be reconfigured to become a troop transport for an infantry battalion.

The EPF has a flight deck for helicopters and a loading ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive on and off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. EPF has a shallow draft (less than 15 feet) 4.6 m.

The EPF is an aluminum twin-hull catamaran shell containing four diesel engines, rudimentary control facilities for up to 40 crewmembers, and 312 airline-style passenger seats, along with an expansive flight deck on the top. The rest of the vessel is a convertible 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) mission bay that can be loaded to carry whatever cargo is needed. Vehicles and cargo are loaded and unloaded by a ramp that can support up to 100 tons of weight.