The US Navy has taken delivery of the first Spearhead-class joint high-speed vessels (JHSV), USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), at Austal Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, US, following the completion of acceptance trials in September 2012.
During various sea trials, USNS Spearhead validated performance of its major systems and equipment, such as the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems.
The delivery follows a $1.6bn contract signed with Austal in November 2008 to build the first JHSV, with options for nine additional vessels between 2009 and 2013 for the US Navy.
Spearhead's civil service master civilian captain Douglas D. Casavant said: "Our 20,000-square-foot mission bay area can be reconfigured to quickly adapt to whatever mission we are tasked with, for instance, carrying containerised portable hospitals to support disaster relief or transporting tanks and troops."
Designed for rapid intra-theatre transport of troops and military equipment in shallow waters, the 338ft-long aluminium catamarans support variety of missions which include traditional logistics missions, humanitarian support projects, and disaster response or by supporting maritime law enforcement activities.
USNS Spearhead is scheduled to undergo operational testing, following which the navy will deploy to support missions in the first quarter of 2013.
The second ship of the class, Choctaw County (JHSV 2), was christened on 15 September, while other vessels are currently under various stages of construction at Austal's facility in Mobile, Alabama, US.
Operated by the Military Sealift Command, the 2,400t JHSV can cruise at an average speed of 35k and is powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71L diesel engines driving four Wartsila WLD 1400 SR waterjets.
Image: USNS Spearhead returning to shipyard following completion of trials. Photo: Austal.