USNS Yuma Christening.

The US Navy has officially christened its eighth Spearhead-class joint high-speed vessel (JHSV) as USNS Yuma (JHSV 8) at Yuma’s Gateway Park in Arizona.

Navy secretary Ray Mabus said: "The ships we build today will be a part of [the] fleet for more than three decades.

"With her ability to operate in areas that might be otherwise inaccessible, USNS Yuma may well be the only part of America, and her sailors the only Americans, some people in the world will ever see."

The new vessel is being built by Austal under a $1.6bn contract awarded by the US Navy in November 2008 for the construction of the first JHSV, with options for nine more.

"The new vessel is being built by Austal under a $1.6bn contract awarded by the US Navy in November 2008."

Operated by the Military Sealift Command, the JHSV will feature a catamaran hull that allows manoeuvrability in shallow waters and a flight deck to support day and night helicopter and unmanned aircraft operations.

Powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71L diesel engines that drive four Wartsila WLD 1400 SR waterjets, the vessels have a displacement capacity of 2,362t, a beam of 28.5m, a draft of 3.8m and can cruise at a maximum speed of 43k.

They will be able to support a range of roles for the military units in operations abroad, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and special operation forces.

Once commissioned, the eighth JHSV could transport marines across the vast Pacific, while it will also be deployed to the Caribbean and South and Central America and work in collaboration with special operations forces.

Image: Navy secretary Ray Mabus during the christening of USNS Yuma (JHSV 8). Photo: courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arif Patani.

Defence Technology