Austal has been awarded a contract by the US Navy for the construction of the eighth and ninth Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) under a contract option worth $321.7m.
The latest construction contract is part of a previous contract awarded to Austal in November 2008, with options to build 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, including internal and external communications, electronic navigation, and aviation and armament systems.
The 103m-long JHSV is capable of transporting troops and equipment, military vehicles, cargo and equipment for a range of global missions.
The JHSV features a flight deck for helos and a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter that facilitates the use of austere piers and quay walls.
Capable of reaching speeds in excess of 35kts when fully loaded, the joint-use platform operated boat can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, and also for performing day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations.
The vessels enable rapid intra-theatre deployment of personnel, equipment and supplies supporting military logistics, sustainment, and humanitarian relief operations
The first JHSV, christened Spearhead, is scheduled to undergo builder's sea trials in early March 2012 and will be designated as a US naval ship on its delivery to the US Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC).
The Choctaw County (JHSV 2) is currently in its final stage of construction while modules for JHSV 3 are being constructed at the company's Module Manufacturing Facility.
Image: USNS Spearhead, the first of 10 US Navy Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) designed by Austal.