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The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) has started the week-long proof of concept trial of its joint high-speed vessel USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2), at the Naval Weapons Station Cheatham, US.

Aimed at establishing an expeditionary medical unit (EMU) on the vessel, the latest trial forms part of a collaborative effort between the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG), Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 (NCHB 1) and the Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Group (NEMSCOM).

NEMSCOM design director lieutenant commander Jeremy Weikel said: "When the COCOM [combatant commander] requires a hospital, we can employ the JHSV to quickly move an EMU from point A to point B.

"For the scope of this exercise, we are looking for a vessel of opportunity. We want to see how this [EMU] can fit on the JHSV in its current configuration."

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"When the COCOM [combatant commander] requires a hospital, we can employ the JHSV to quickly move an EMU from point A to point B."

The reconfigurable 20,000ft² mission-bay area can be rapidly deployed to support a range of missions, including transporting portable hospitals to support humanitarian assistance-disaster relief (HADR) and tanks and troops.

Currently in its early stages of development and experimentation, the EMU proof of concept can potentially serve as a rapid medical response, despite not being ready to conduct missions on hospital vessels.

The JHSV can load an EMU and be met on station by NEMSCOM and fleet hospital personnel, who unload and set up the EMU, providing sea-state support movement of the vessel.

The vessel, which operates in shallow ports and waterways, can carry approximately 600t of military troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment, while travelling 1,200nm at an average speed of 35k.

Image: The USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) preparing to moor at Cheatham Annex, US. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy, photo by chief mass communication specialist Edward Kessler.

Defence Technology