Austal USA has secured a contract from the US Navy to carry out the detailed design and construction of new Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel.

The undefinitised contract is worth $235m (approximately A$295m) and the vessel will be the 15th EPF.

Austal noted that the EPF vessel is a 103m high speed aluminium catamaran. It is designed to provide a fast, high-payload transport capability to combatant commanders across the world to support missions such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The EPF platform is designed by Austal Australia and manufactured by Austal USA.

Since 2012, Austal USA has delivered 12 EPFs to the US Navy from its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said: “The EPF has made a real difference to military operations and other humanitarian and disaster relief missions over many years now, and this additional vessel contract reflects the continuing confidence in the unique high-speed platform.

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“This latest EPF will expand the medical facilities available on-board, further enhancing the proven operational capabilities of the ship, which has been used for various medical missions in the Pacific, South East Asia and Western Africa.

“Austal USA is understandably proud of its record of success with the EPF, which has been deployed and operated by US Military Sealift Command (USMSC) for the US Navy, in theatres around the world.”

One Spearhead-class EPF, known as the future ‘USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13)’, is currently under construction at Austal USA’s shipyard, while the future ‘USNS Cody (EPF 14)’ is scheduled to begin construction in the H2-FY2021.

Besides the EPF programme, Austal USA is contracted to deliver 19 Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the US Navy.