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Austal delivers Spearhead class expeditionary fast transport USNS Cody to US Navy.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to a PR published by Austal on January 12, 2024, the United States Navy has expanded its fleet with the addition of the USNS Cody (EPF-14), delivered from their shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Cody. (Picture source: US DoD)

One of the key features of the Spearhead-class is its ability to transport troops, military vehicles, cargo, and equipment for various global missions. This capability is crucial for military logistics and supporting humanitarian relief efforts.

The design of the EPF allows for operation in shallow-draft ports and waterways, enhancing its flexibility in different environments. Its stern loading ramp can support heavy equipment like the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, emphasizing its capability in logistics and transport operations.

The EPF is not just limited to transportation; it has been considered for a range of other roles. For instance, the U.S. 4th Fleet has shown interest in using the EPF for drug interdiction missions in Central and South America.

This role capitalizes on the EPF's speed and the ability to embark a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. Furthermore, the Navy is exploring expanding the EPF's roles to include re-supplying special operations forces and conducting humanitarian assistance missions. Despite not being armed, the EPF's speed and the possibility of embarking a security team make it a candidate for counter-piracy missions.

The EPF has been considered for amphibious assault roles, but it faces limitations such as operating in challenging sea states and the lack of a well deck for launching amphibious vehicles.

Despite these drawbacks, the Marine Corps is investigating modifications to enhance its capabilities, such as enabling the "splash capability" for deploying Amphibious Combat Vehicles near shores.

A significant development is the EPF Flight II variant, beginning with EPF-14, which brings enhanced medical capabilities. This variant allows for faster and more versatile medical support than the Navy's larger, slower, and unarmed hospital ships. The design includes upgrades to medical facilities for resuscitation and surgery, as well as enhanced support for V-22 flight operations.

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