MSC Adding Fast Hospital Ships ?
Saturday’s DOD Contract announcements included this little gem, converting a pair of Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) currently under construction–USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13), and Cody (EPF 14)— into hospital transports. The EPFs are speedy (43-knot) little (1500 ton, 337ft o.a.) trimarans made by Austal and manned by the civilian mariners of the MSC to carry a reinforced company-sized unit of ground-pounders or cargo intra-theatre. The Navy has been brainstorming using an EPF equipped with an expeditionary medical unit (EMU) inside the mission bay that, while falling short of a full-size hospital ship, would allow an EPF/EMU to serve as a quick transit platform for rapid medical response.
From the announcement:
Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a not-to-exceed $9,198,875 fixed priced incentive firm target (FPI(F)) undefinitized contract action modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-19-C-2227 for the immediate procurement of long-lead-time material, engineering, and production to support changes to the arrangement of the 02 and 03 Levels on Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) 13 and 14. The EPF class provides high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies and equipment for the Navy, Marine Corps and Army. Work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama, and is expected to be complete by November 2021. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy-SCN) funding for $4,599,438 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year — fiscal 2018 SCN (62%); and fiscal 2019 SCN (38%). The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.