Australian vessel manufacturer Austal will construct the US Department of Defense’s joint high-speed vessel (JHSV) after completing the initial critical design review.

Austal provided a comprehensive summary about this multi-use platform design for US Navy’s approval and is now moving forward for the final critical design review.

Austal USA president and chief operating officer Joe Rella stated that the team now entered the transitional design phase with production of the lead JHSV to commence later this year.

The company won the contract worth over $1.6bn in November 2008 to design and build JHSV.

Under the contract, the company will design and construct the lead 103m JHSV, with nine extra vessels expected to be exercised between FY09 and FY13.

The JHSV provides rapid intra-theatre deployment of personnel, equipment and supplies supporting military logistics, sustainment, and humanitarian relief operations at speeds of more than 35kt.

The vessel has a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp allowing vehicles to quickly drive on or off that enables use of austere piers and quay walls. The vessel’s shallow draught (under 15ft) will further enhance theatre port access.

JHSV is able to transport medium-sized units with their vehicles or reconfigure to provide troop transport for an infantry battalion, allowing units to cross operational distances.