The U.S. Navy’s newest Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel, USNS Cody (EPF 14), launched at Austal USA’s shipyard, Mar. 20. Capable of transporting 600 tons of personnel and cargo up to 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, each EPF vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. The ships are also capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and can load and off-load heavy vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank. Launching an EPF is a multi-step process, conducted over two full days. The ship is moved from the Modular Manufacturing Facility where it was constructed to a docking barge, and then transported to a floating dry dock.
“Today’s launch marks another successful milestone for the EPF 14, and it demonstrates the strength of the Navy-Austal USA partnership,” said Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships, Tim Roberts. “EPFs provide capability and capacity for a variety of missions, when and where our fleet needs support.”
Submerging the dry dock into the water then launches the ship to float on its own. As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office, Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. EPFs operate in shallow waterways. These versatile, non-combatant transport ships are used to quickly transport troops, military vehicles, and equipment needed to support:Overseas contingency operations, Humanitarian assistance, Disaster relief, Special operations forces efforts, Theater security cooperation activities and Emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
USNS Cody (T-EPF-14) will be the fourteenth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport and will be operated by the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command. She will be the first ship in naval service named after Cody, Wyoming, and the first of the Flight II variant designed to have enhanced medical capabilities. The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) is a United States Navy–led shipbuilding program to provide a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intra-theater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. The EPFs can reach speeds of 35–45 knots (65–83 km/h; 40–52 mph), and allow the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces, equipment and supplies.