Austal has successfully completed the builder’s sea trials of the US Navy’s fourth Spearhead-class joint high-speed vessel (JHSV), USNS Fall River (JHSV 4), at its mobile shipyard in Alabama, US.
During trials, the vessel’s major systems, including propulsion plant, communications, navigation and ride control, underwent comprehensive tests.
Paving the way for navy acceptance trials, the tests mark the completion of the initial phase of a set of rigorous tests aimed at validating the vessel’s systems and performance.
Programme Executive Office, Ships Strategic Sealift and Theatre Sealift programme manager, captain Henry Stevens said: "Fall River follows in the footsteps of the first three vessels with positive and consistent testing and demonstrations.
"The ship’s keel was laid just a little over a year ago and she was launched earlier this year."
Fall River, which will be operated by the US Military Sealift Command, is expected to be operational later this year.
As part of the acceptance trials, the navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) will study and assess the vessel to spot any deficiencies prior to delivery.
"JHSV 3 went from initial ship trials to delivery in less than six months," Stevens added. "JHSV 4 benefits from the same proven technologies and stable requirements that have produced the level of efficiency and savings seen on the previous vessels of this class."
The USNS Fall River, which is based on a commercial design, integrates military specifications to support a range of missions, including manoeuvre and sustainment, relief operations, and flexible logistics support. It can also act as the key enabler for rapid transport.
The vessel’s flight deck for helicopter operations and off-load ramp apt for the types of rigorous piers and quay walls will boost port access and operations in littoral areas, as will its shallow draft below 15ft.
Powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71L diesel engines driving four Wartsila WLD 1400 SR waterjets, through ZF 60000NR2H reduction gears, JHSV 4 can transport 600 short tons at 1,200nm, with an average speed of 35k.
Image: The US Navy’s first Spearhead JHSV during its builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: courtesy of Austal.