The High-Speed Vessel Swift has
been filling the intra-theater transport role to date, supporting U.S. Africa Command and Southern Command with their fleet partnership stations over the past five years, he said.
“JHSV is going to take a lot of
those missions that Swift had been
doing and expand them really to a
more global base,” he said. “That’s
one of the things they’re working on.
“We’re excited to be getting these
ships,” he added. “They have a great
capability and a lot of flexibility that
I think the fleet is starting to realize.”
The Army originally had planned
to purchase five of the JHSVs along
with the Navy, but the program was
restructured in 2011 to deliver all 10
ships to the Navy. The Army, however, still will be an integral partner on
“They still have a requirement
for intra-theater operational maneuvers,” Souza said.
In the meantime, Military Sealift Command has been
busy integrating its newest ships into the fleet. USNS
Spearhead (JHSV 1) and Choctaw County (JHSV 2), while
both delivered, are in “slightly different phases,” he noted.
Since Spearhead was delivered in December, it has been
undergoing post-delivery trials to verify the different mission systems and capabilities onboard. A test-and-trial
event that will finish with an end-to-end operational test
was scheduled to wrap up by early August.
“So really, from the delivery, we’ve just been stretching the ship out to see how it operates,” Souza said.
MSC is preparing the vessels for their post-shakedown
availability in the hopes of achieving initial operational
capability for the class on Dec. 5.
Mark Deskins, deputy program manager at the program executive office for ships at Naval Sea Systems
Command, said USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3), is 85 percent complete, with delivery expected in December.
USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) is 60 percent complete, with
delivery expected by the end of next year.
“So what you’re seeing is Austal, as they planned in
their proposal, getting on a six-month delivery schedule
with us,” Deskins said. “Ship five has started construction.
Six through 10, although awarded, have not yet started.”
Deskins praised Austal’s performance on the program considering that the company is not a major
shipbuilder, noting that “like any shipbuilder,” it is
learning lessons as it goes.
Austal also builds the Independence-class Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS). Deskins said the company has
The third Joint High-Speed Vessel, USNS Millinocket, was launched at Austal
USA facilities in Mobile, Ala., June 5. Millinocket is 85 percent complete and is
expected to be delivered to the Navy in December.
been able to manage building both without any disruptions.
“When Austal first started, one half of the line was
LCS and one half of the line was JHSV,” Deskins said.
“They’ve expanded the modular manufacturing capa-
bilities, doubled it in size, so they have their own ded-
icated line. It’s a very flexible facility.”
He said both of the first two ships have performed
well in testing trials.
Deskins said the JHSV will bring capabilities far
beyond what current ferry options provide.
“It has a wide open mission bay,” he noted. “The
mission bay is open enough so that the Marine Corps
can bring trucks on with a trailer and actually make a
turn inside the ship so they can come off the ship correctly. They don’t have to back the trucks up.
“If you were to look at the Hawaiian superferries,
they didn’t have [a 45-degree ramp], so we can load
trucks and tanks right onto the ship, and the crew
don’t have to unload their ordnance,” he added.
And then there’s the speed. The ship can reach 35
knots with a heavy load, allowing it to traverse great
distances and reducing the need for the Navy to use
expensive air transport to get troops and equipment
where they need to go.
Ultimately, the key word to describe the ship is
“flexible,” Deskins said.
“That’s probably the word I’ve heard more than any-
thing,” he said. “We can do a lot of things to it.”
Austal was unable to provide comment by press