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US Navy christens first medical mission transport catamaran

Flight II EPF medical mission
Illustration; Austal file photo

The US Navy christened its Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Cody (EPF 14) in a ceremony on Saturday, February 25, in Mobile, Alabama.

While Cody is the 14th ship in its class to be built by Austal, it is also the first Flight II unit, featuring enhanced medical mission capabilities. With an embarked medical unit, the Flight II EPF will have two operating rooms, the ability to support approximately 41 medical patients, and 147 embarked forces.

The enhancements will include a combined forward resuscitative care capability with a limited intensive care unit and medical ward. Flight II EPFs will be able to stabilize postsurgical cases for evacuation without the requirement to first route them through a higher facility.

Other improvements will include habitability modifications, improved small boat handling, as well as the capability to operate the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

Matt Hall, Mayor of Cody, Wyo., delivered the ceremonial principal address. Additional speakers include Vice Adm. Francis Morley, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition; Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the Navy; Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, commander, Military Sealift Command; Rusty Murdaugh, president, Austal USA; and Stan Kordana, vice president of Surface Systems, General Dynamics Mission Systems.

In a time-honored Navy tradition, Averil Spencer, the ship’s sponsor, christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow. Spencer is the daughter of the Richard V. Spencer, 76th Secretary of the Navy.

“This ship is the first to honor the city of Cody, Wyoming, a city that proudly embodies America’s independence and fighting spirit,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. “The future USNS Cody will also be the first Flight II configuration in its class, bringing enhanced medical capabilities in addition to its high-speed sealift mobility and agility. I look forward to the depth that this expeditionary fast transport will add to our fleet.”

The future USNS Cody will join the fleet as one of nearly 100 US Navy ships operating globally each day ensuring freedom of the seas, protecting international law, and strengthening relationships with Allies and partners.

EPFs, formerly designated as Joint High Speed Vessels, are all-aluminum catamarans that provide high-speed, shallow-draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies, and equipment for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. EPFs enable the rapid projection, agile maneuver, and sustainment of forces in response to a wide range of military and civilian contingencies such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), Humanitarian Assistance, and Disaster Relief (HADR).