As much as the Keftion was a rather commercial vessel, the Kepen was the archetype of the pre-Hellenistic Egyptian warship. Built more for speed and lacking carrying capacity, it was nevertheless constructed in the same way as trade ships, with cedar wood or other related species, a stitched hull with transverse reinforcement beams, and rope running from the prow to the stern for extra rigidity. There was indeed no keel to speak of, invented later by the Phoenicians. The Kepen specifics also were bulwarks protecting rowers and soldiers, a long footbridge and a mast top for a watchman/archer. The spur was a weapon of the Kepen, although boarding the enemy ship after watering its bridge with arrows of arrows was the common tactic.

The length of a Kepen could hardly exceed 30 meters. They are known to us by an inscription leaving no doubt and describing well the "Képen" like a warship, a bas-relief found at Medinet Abou describing the conquests of Ramses III in 1170 BC. As early as 1300 BC, indeed, piracy developed at the same time as the flourishing trade relations that Egypt maintained with the Mycenaean and Cretans, Egypt being the interface between India (from 1800 BC thanks to a connecting canal between the Nile and the Red Sea) and the Mediterranean. The Egyptians fought naval battles against famous seafarers, Philistines, Danaens and Achaeans, including the most infamous "Sea Peoples" that brings a new dark age to the area, wiping out several brilliant civilizations.