The Navy awarded Austal USA a $262 million modification on Tuesday for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the 13th and 14th Expeditionary Fast Transport (T-EPF) ships while the service also requested extra funds to convert EPF-14 in to a medical vessel.

This both covers the DD&C efforts for the two ships and definitizes and subsumes the long long-lead time material for undefinitized contract actions (UCAs) for T-EPF-13 and 14.

The U.S. Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel USNS City of Bismarck (EPF-9) is launched in Mobile, Ala. On June 7, 2017. (Photo: David Stoltz, U.S. Navy).

The Navy noted since this contract modification covers both the DD&C and definitizing the UCAs, the funding obligated is larger than the face value of the award.

The contract includes options that, if awarded, raise the total value of the contract to $371 million. Work will largely occur in Mobile, Ala., Novi, Mich., and Fairfax, Va., and is expected to be finished by July 2022.

This award extends the previous contract to build 12 T-EPFs at a value of $1.9 billion. Now, the total EPF program contracts are worth over $2 billion.

Last fall, the Navy awarded Austal a $58 million contract for long-lead time material procurement and production engineering for T-EPF-13 (Defense Daily, Oct. 19).  In December, the Navy awarded the company a $40 million contract for the same work on EPF-14 (Defense Daily, Dec. 7, 2018).

Austal said under this award construction of EPF-13 is set to start in late 2019 and EPF-14 will follow it in mid-2020. The FY 2020 Navy budget request documents said the service expects EPF-13 to start construction in November 2019 and be delivered two years later. It also expects EPF-14 to start construction in July 2020 and be delivered in July 2022.

“The extension of this program to 14 vessels is a result of the versatility of the EPF platform to perform an increasing range of roles for the U.S. Navy combined with the confidence our customer has in it. We continue to believe that the EPF vessel, in various configurations, has a long future ahead of it,” Austal CEO David Singleton said in a statement.

“We have a proven ability to build these cost effective vessels efficiently at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama, and, as a result, they will continue to underpin the shipyard for several years to come,” Singleton added.

In all, $135 million in FY 2018 shipbuilding and conversion accounts and $162 million in FY 2019 shipbuilding accounts were obligated at award time and do not expire at the end of this fiscal year.

Relatedly, the Navy’s FY 2020 unfunded priorities list submitted to Congress on March 22 requested $49 million to convert T-EPF-14 in an Expeditionary Medical Transport (EMT) vessel.

The request said the EMT will provide ambulance-type medical services in support of Distributed Maritime Operations to support Role 2 Enhanced Medical Requirements.

According to a NATO handbook, the military defines Role 2 requirements to include “triage and resuscitation, treatment and holding of patients until they can be returned to duty or evacuated, and emergency dental treatment.”

This level normally does not include surgical capabilities, but “certain operations may require their augmentation with the capabilities to perform emergency surgery and essential post-operative management. In this case, they will be often referred to as Role 2+.”

The Navy said converting the EPF would be implemented through an engineering change proposal modification to the shipbuilding contract.

The Spearhead-class EPFs are high-speed non-combat ships that on- and off-load people, supplies, and equipment within a theater. Ships can hold up to one fully loaded Abrams tank and has seating for up to 312 embarked forces.

Austal builds the EPFs at its Mobile, Ala., shipyard.