Austal Delivers First Joint High Speed Vessel
The first Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), was officially delivered by Austal to the United States Navy on 5 December. The signing event was attended Craig Perciavalle, Sr. Vice President of Austal USA, representing the builder. The USNS Spearhead successfully completed Acceptance Trials in September and will sail away later this year.
Austal USA Interim President and Chief Financial Officer, Brian Leathers, had this to say regarding the delivery of Austal’s first JHSV: “The delivery of the USNS Spearhead is a significant achievement for Austal and adds to the rich history of Mobile as a hub of shipbuilding activity in the United States. Austal USA has delivered 12 ships in 11 years, certainly a major contributor to the shipbuilding legacy of Mobile, Alabama.”
The 103 metre (338 foot) long aluminium catamarans are designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable even in shallow waters, making them ideal for transporting troops and equipment quickly within a theater of operations. The ship has the ability to support a variety of operations, supporting the warfighter through traditional logistics missions, humanitarian support projects, disaster response or by supporting maritime law enforcement activities.
“This delivery underlines our position as a global defence prime contractor and continues Austal’s worldwide legacy as the premier provider of innovative, high-speed vessels, with capabilities to construct and support these and other vessels in a global market,” said Andrew Bellamy, Austal’s Chief Executive Officer.
Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well-positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility on the Mobile Bay waterfront.
Austal is currently under contract with the US Navy to build nine 103-metre JHSVs under a 10-ship, US$1.6 billion contract and five 127-metre Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, US$3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach allows for affordable and efficient capability growth as technologies develop.
These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Mobile, Alabama workforce to approximately 4,000 employees in order to fulfil the contract requirements.
Military Sealift Command accepted delivery of the Navy's first joint high-speed vessel at Austal Shipyard in Mobile, Ala., Dec. 5.
USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), a joint high-speed vessel, or JHSV, is designed for rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment.
MSC will own and operate Spearhead and the eight other JHSVs that are under contract, with the option of a ninth additional vessel, to be built for the Navy. Spearhead is crewed by 22 civil service mariners working for MSC who will operate, navigate and maintain the ship.
Retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Four Kenneth Wahlman is the ship's sponsor. Wahlman was inducted into the Transportation Corps Hall of Fame in July 2004 after 38 years of distinguished contributions to the Army ranging from support to Naval Nuclear Power Unit at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, to assisting with the launch of the Army prepositioning fleet in 1987.
The Navy honored the ship's original U.S. Army-chosen name and sponsor after the 2011 decision to transfer five JHSVs - originally slated to be owned and operated by the Army - to the Navy. Subsequent JHSVs will be named after U.S. counties, such as USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2).
The 338-foot-long aluminum catamarans are designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in shallow waters, making them ideal for transporting troops and equipment quickly within a theater of operations.
"Flexibility may be the best attribute of this ship,' said civilian Capt. Douglas D. Casavant, Jr., Spearhead's civil service master who has been sailing for MSC for 23 years. "Our 20,000-square-foot mission bay area can be reconfigured to quickly adapt to whatever mission we are tasked with, for instance, carrying containerized portable hospitals to support disaster relief or transporting tanks and troops."
The JHSVs are capable of transporting approximately 600 tons of military troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and can operate in shallow-draft, austere ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility.
The JHSVs' aviation flight deck can support day and night flight operations for a wide variety of aircraft, including CH-53 Super Stallions. Each JHSV has sleeping accommodations for up to 42 crew members and 104 mission personnel; and airline-style seating for 312 people.
As MSC assets, all of the JHSVs will be civilian-crewed. The first four of the 10 projected vessels, including Spearhead, will be crewed by civil service mariners, while the next six are slated to be crewed by civilian mariners working for a private company under contract to MSC. Military mission personnel will embark as required by mission sponsors.
Following delivery to the Navy, Spearhead will participate in operational testing before sailing to its layberth in Little Creek, Va. The Navy expects the ship to begin conducting missions in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, U.S. merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.