Shipbuilding firm Austal has received a US$867.6 million (A$1.28 billion) undefinitized contract award (UCA) for the final design and construction of three Expeditionary Medical Ships (EMS) from the United States Navy.
These ships will be based on Austal’s proven Expeditionary Fast Transport ship (EPF) platform and will be built in the company’s aluminum manufacturing line. The contract allows for the completion of the final detailed design and commencement of the construction of the three vessels.
“The new Expeditionary Medical Ship further extends the capabilities of the proven Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) platform, designed and constructed by Austal, to enable more complex medical procedures and operations to be performed onboard, at sea, and underway,” Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said.
“These three new EMS will enhance the US Navy’s capability to provide effective medical and surgical support anywhere in the world, quickly, safely, and efficiently.”
As a dedicated medical platform, the EMS will provide patient holding, stabilization, evacuation, and transport in support of Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO). Its cost-effective design features a shallow draft, which enables greater reach and allows for direct access to austere ports. The flight deck will accommodate military aircraft, including the V-22 Osprey and CH-53K heavy-lift cargo helicopter.
To date, Austal has delivered 13 EPFs, a predecessor to the EMS design, to the United States Navy. The standard EPF stands at 103 meters (338 feet) long and can travel at speeds of up to 40 mph (65 kph) for distances as great as 1,380 miles (2,200 km). The platform can carry 600 short tons of cargo.
The company is now preparing to deliver the first EPF Flight II, the future USNS Cody (EPF 14), which features enhanced Role 2E medical capability, and has two more Flight II vessels under construction.