New Ship on the Block
As the JHSV arrives in the fleet, lawmakers
already are pushing to expand its role
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
The Senate Armed Services
Committee stated in its mark-up of
the budget that “the committee
believes the Navy should consider
additional functions or capabilities
that the JHSV fleet might provide.
Some of these could include support
to counterdrug or counterpiracy
operations, command and control
for joint task force operations, [or]
intelligence, surveillance and recon-
Jan van Tol, a senior fellow at the
Washington-based Center for
“It doesn’t have to be just troops,” he said.
“Obviously, the distances in the Pacific are unique.
The distances make range and the ability to maintain
good high speed a considerable value in terms of
deploying assets — for bringing things from point to
Mike Souza, JHSV project officer at Military Sealift
Command — which is responsible for the JHSV opera-
tionally — would not comment on other potential roles
for the vessel, noting that a “lot of that is still being
determined by fleet forces, [who are] balancing some
different requirements from the area commanders.”
However, he said the JHSV originally was construct-
ed to support different combatant commanders’
requirements and operate independently.
“OPNAV [the office of the Chief of Naval
Operations] and staff are looking at a lot of different
missions for the ship, and there’s a lot of things to be
determined,” Souza said.
Although the first Joint High-Speed Vessels (JHSVs) have only
recently been delivered, the Navy already is being pressed to see
the ships as more than just troop and equipment transports.
■ Support to counterdrug or counterpiracy operations, command
and control for joint task force operations, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations are among the additional
functions lawmakers would like to see considered.
■ The JHSV could prove especially valuable in the Asia-Pacific
region, where the distances make range and the ability to maintain
good high speed key considerations in terms of deploying assets.
■ Military Sealift Command is preparing the first two JHSVs for
their post-shakedown availability in the hopes of achieving initial
operational capability for the class on Dec. 5.
Already in the midst of a hot production run, the Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV) has been the talk of the town in Washington in recent
The JHSV is a high-speed, shallow-draft ship meant
to provide intra-theater transport for troops and supplies, but it could take on many more roles in the
future as the Navy expands its focus on and presence
in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Navy has awarded all of the contracts for its 10-
ship buy. But manufacturer Austal USA, Mobile, Ala., is
right in the thick of production, just delivering the second ship to the Navy and launching the third in June.
In the meantime, lawmakers have been pressing the
Navy to see the JHSV as more than just a troop and equipment transport. The House and Senate Armed Services
Committees, as well as the House Appropriations defense
subcommittee, have asked the Navy to consider other
ways the JHSV could be used in their recent mark-ups of
the fiscal 2014 defense budget request.