JHSV leverages proven technology for low-risk development
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
Program Executive Office Ships
(PEO Ships). “It can self-deploy. It
can support maritime security
operations in some of the lower-end kind of missions.”
The JHSV is the product of almost
a decade of military advanced concept technology demonstrations
(ACTDs) and operations with four
high-speed vessels (HSVs) leased or
chartered from their builders. The
HSVs Joint Venture, Spearhead and
Swift — all catamarans built by Incat
of Australia — performed missions
for the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Special Operations
Command and several combatant commanders among
other organizations. Swift remains in service with Military
The Austal-built Westpac Express, a 101-meter-long
hybrid roll-on/roll-off passenger/cargo ferry with a
catamaran hull, supports the III Marine Expeditionary
Force in Japan by transporting battalion-size units
between ports in the Western Pacific Ocean.
Sutton cited three lessons learned from the HSV
experiments and operations: “[They] informed our
‘iron triangle’ of speed, payload and range … our manning concept number and type … and the acquisition
and life-cycle costs for JHSVs.”
The JHSV draws most heavily on the experience
with Westpac Express and the Austal-built Alakai, a
107-meter-long ferry that was operated by Hawaii
Superferry to move passengers and automobiles
between Oahu and Maui, said Joe Rella, president and
chief operating officer of Austal USA.
The 103-meter-long JHSV features aluminum catamaran hulls with a draft of only 12. 57 feet, allowing for
access to ports with water depths of 15 feet. The ship is
designed to carry 700 short tons at 35 knots sustained
for 1,200 nautical miles. Four MTU 8000 diesel engines
— of the type used on Alakai and installed on the
The catamaran Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV) will shuttle personnel, equipment and supplies at high, sustained speeds to austere ports in theater.
■ The Austal design draws on experience with leased high-speed
vessels and commercial ferries.
■ The flight deck will allow helicopter operations.
■ Delivery of the first JHSV is slated for November 2011.
The Navy has exercised a contract option to proceed with acquisition of long-lead materi- als for the second and third Joint High-Speed
Vessels (JHSVs), a move indicating high confidence in
the design even before construction begins in
November on the lead ship of the class.
Austal USA, the sector of the Australian shipbuilder
based in Mobile, Ala., was awarded a $99.5 million
contract June 22 for the purchase of the materials. The
company, experienced in building high-speed vessels
for the commercial sector, was awarded a $185 million
contract in November to design and build the first
JHSV, with options to build nine additional ships
through fiscal 2013. The contract’s potential worth
may reach $1.6 billion.
The 10 planned JHSVs, divided equally between the
Navy and Army, are designed to serve as rapid intra-theater transportation for personnel, vehicles, supplies
and other equipment in support of logistics and
humanitarian relief operations. The ship is configured
to transport a medium-sized military unit — a battalion, for example — and its vehicles and equipment at
speeds of 35 knots or more.
“It fills the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift,” said Capt. George Sutton, program manager for strategic and theater sealift programs for
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009