The US Navy has awarded a contract to Austal for the construction of the sixth and seventh joint high speed vessels (JHSV).

The $313m construction contract is part of a previous contract awarded in November 2008, with options for nine additional vessels between 2009 and 2013 worth over $1.6bn.

The Austal JHSV team includes General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, which is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s mission systems.

The 103m-long JHSV is capable of transporting troops and equipment, supporting humanitarian relief efforts, operating in shallow waters and reaching speeds in excess of 35kt.

The first JHSV, Spearhead, is scheduled for launch in August 2011 with delivery to take place in December 2011.

The company is also building ten littoral combat ships for the US Navy under another contract.