Spearhead Class Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV), United States of America


Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) are being built by Austal USA as part of the JHSV programme initiated by the US Navy.

Operated by the Military Sealift Command, the JHSV will support joint or coalition force operations of the army and navy.

The main roles of the JHSVs are transportation of troops, military vehicles, cargo and equipment for a range of global missions.

The vessel will support military logistics and humanitarian relief operations.

Development and construction of the JHSV

The preliminary design contract for the JHSV programme was awarded in February 2008. The programme initially called for five JHSVs to be delivered to the army and five to the Navy and Marine Corps.

In November 2008, the US Navy placed a $185.4m contract for the detail design and construction of a JHSV, with options for up to nine additional ships. The initial critical design review (ICDR) was completed by May 2009.

"In November 2008, the US Navy placed a $185.4m contract for the detail design and construction of a JHSV."

The first three vessels were named as Spearhead (JHSV 1), Vigilant (JHSV 2) and Fortitude (JHSV 3) in July 2009. Construction of Vigilant and Fortitude was authorised by the US Navy in January 2010.

The keel for the first ship in the class, Spearhead (JHSV 1), was laid at Austal's shipyard at Mobile, Alabama, in July 2010. It was launched and christened as USNS Spearhead in September 2011. The ship successfully completed acceptance trials in September 2012 and was formally handed over to the US Navy in December 2012. The US Navy concluded initial operational testing and evaluation of JHSV 1 in October 2013.

Construction of JHSV 2 (ex-Vigilant) began in September 2010. In May 2011, the US Army transferred all five of its JHSVs to the Navy. The JHSV 2 was christened as USNS Choctaw County in September 2012 and was launched in October 2012. The keel for the third JHSV (now, Millinocket) was laid down in May 2012 and the vessel was launched in June 2013. Deliveries of the second and third JHSVs took place in June 2013 and March 2014 respectively. The JHSV 3 participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

The keel-laying of the fourth JHSV, Fall River was held in May 2013 and the ship was launched in January 2014. Acceptance trials were completed in July 2014 and the vessel was delivered to the US Navy in September 2014. Keel for the fifth ship in the class, Trenton (JHSV 5), was laid in March 2014 and the vessel was launched in September 2014. It is expected to be delivered in spring-2015.

The US Navy exercised contract options for the construction of the sixth and seventh ships in July 2011. Construction on the sixth vessel, named Brunswick (JHSV 6), was commenced in January 2014 and the keel was laid in December 2014. Construction on the seventh JHSV, named Carson City, began in September 2014.

The contract options for the construction of eighth and ninth JHSVs were exercised in February 2012. The US Navy exercised the $166.9m contract option for the final vessel of the ten-ship programme in December 2012.

Joint High Speed Vessel design features

JHSV features rounded bilge and bulbous bow hull forms made of aluminium. The catamaran vessel is being built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards. Onboard systems comply with the commercial ABS steel vessel regulations.

The ship does not feature combat systems or the ability to support or use LCS mission modules. JHSV is based on the commercial technology, but includes limited military features, such as aviation, C4SI and fire-fighting.

The vessel has a length of 103m, a beam of 28.5m and a draft of 3.8m. Displacement of the ship is 2,362t.

The open unobstructed mission deck has a usable cargo area of more than 1,800 square metres with clear height of 4.7m and turning diameter of 26.2m.

Performance and power of the US Navy ships

JHSV can be operated in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on / roll-off discharge facilities and on / off-loading. The stern loading ramp can support a M1A2 Abrams main battle tank.

The ships can transport 635t of payload for more than 1,200nm at an average speed of 35k. JHSV will be crewed by the civilian mariners provided by the Military Sealift Command. The vessel will complement a crew of approximately 42 people.

Aircraft capabilities of Austal USA's JHSV

The JHSV features a Navair level 1 class 2 certified flight deck to support the operations of one helicopter, such as a CH-53E Super Stallion.

"The vessel will support military logistics and humanitarian relief operations."

The ship is equipped with a centreline parking area for one helicopter, a vertical replenishment area and helicopter control station.

Kongsberg Maritime was contracted to supply the JHSVs helicopter operations surveillance system (HOSS).

Operated from the control room, the HOSS system allows helicopter operations in very low light conditions.

The system integrates a MIL-S-901D shock qualified 19" SXGA LCD monitor suitable for night vision device (NVD) operations.

JHSV propulsion and crew accommodation

JHSV is powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71L diesel engines driving four Wartsila WLD 1400 SR waterjets via four ZF 60000NR2H reduction gears. Each engine rated at 9.1MW provides a maximum speed of 43kt without payload. The propulsion system delivers superior fuel efficiency to reduce operating costs.

The ship provides accommodation for 42 crew members in two single staterooms, six double staterooms and seven quadruple staterooms. There will be airline style seating for more than 312 embarked forces as well as permanent berths for approximately 104 personnel and temporary berths for 46 troops.

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