The US Navy has awarded a contract to Austal for the acquisition of long-lead time material for two additional joint high-speed vessels (JHSVs).

The 103m-long JHSV is specifically designed to transport troops and their equipment in support of humanitarian relief efforts, and can reach speeds in excess of 35kt.

The vessels, which allow rapid transit and deployment of conventional forces along with their equipment, will be used by the US Army and Navy.

In November 2008, Austal was awarded the initial contract to build the first JHSV and received contracts for an additional two vessels in January 2010.

The recent contract enables the company to acquire long-lead materials for the fourth and fifth high-speed vessels.

Currently, Austal has contracts to build the first three JHSVs as part of a ten-vessel programme worth around A$2bn ($1.6bn).

The JHSV 1 Spearhead is being built at the company’s facility in Alabama. It is expected to be launched shortly.

Construction for the JHSV 2 is scheduled to begin in September this year, while the JHSV 3 is due to start in mid-2011.