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Fourth Joint High Speed Vessel Delivers

USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1), the first of 10 Navy joint high-speed vessels designed for rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment during builders trials. US Navy Photo

USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1), the first of 10 Navy joint high-speed vessels designed for rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment during builders trials. US Navy Photo

Austal USA has delivered the latest Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) to U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) in a ceremony in Mobile, Ala. on Monday, according to a statement from U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

USNS Fall River (JHSV-4) is the fourth JHSV delivered to to MSC, following the completion of sea trials in July.

“Today the Navy received a tremendous asset,” said Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Manager Capt. Henry Stevens in the statement.
“The addition of Fall River to the fleet will enhance our forward presence and ability to bolster global security from the sea by quickly transporting significant resources to a wide array of geographic regions throughout the world in time of need.”

The fifth JHSV, Trenton (JHSV-5), will launch in the next few weeks, according to NAVSEA.

JHSV began as a joint Army and Navy Program until the Army left the ten-ship $2.5 billion program.

The aluminum catamarans can transport up to 600 tons of troops and gear. The ships displace 1,515-tons, can cruise at 35 knots at a range of 1,200 nautical miles.

The first ship, USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) was accepted into service last year and has operated in the Mediterranean Sea. USNS Millinocket (JHSV-3) was part of the Rim of the Pacific 2014 (RIMPAC) exercise.

U.S. Southern Command is also interested in using the platform for drug interception mission.

4th fleet, austal usa, JHSV, military sealift command, msc, SOUTHCOM, us navy

  • Secundius

    This is where the LCS class comes in handy as a High-Speed Defensive Escort operating at 33+ knots, speeds over long-periods of time. But, you still need to upgrade its gunnery offensive capabilities.

  • OLD GUY

    I still disagree with you. LCS could not keep up with JHSV at flank and you could put armament on it that would surpass any thing on that junker. An escort MUST be faster or it is just an “acompanier”. WHY are you so enamored of 2 poor ships?

    • Matthew

      LCS ‘may’ be a poor ship however the USMC in Japan and South Korea has nothing but high marks for the MV Westpac Express. Its a proven concept with 13+ years of nothing but results that also has a higher availability rating then any other ship or aircraft that the US armed forces field (as high as 99% in some years).

      If so against the JHSV then list why and what you propose as a counter vessel.

      • OLD GUY

        HEY THERE you haven’t been reading my posts correctly. In 1990, I was the one who invited Austal to demonstrate their “Wave Piercer” technology for the Army..
        I strongly supported acquisition of a joint vehicle, until I retired.
        My gripe is with the Largely Chimeric Stupidity (LCS). Please scout around and read some of my posts.

        • Matthew

          Ah my apologies, Glad we can clear that up then.

  • Secundius

    @ OLD GUY.

    The same reason why your NOT. I see future possibilities, for both the LCS classes and the JHSV class.

    • OLD GUY

      WHY NOT? Two reasons:
      1. COST
      2. Other, EXISTING ships can do the proposed missions, BETTER, with appropriate upgrades

      • Matthew

        1. Cost – Cost for the LCS is actually shrinking, People still use the $700m price tag as an argument when it has shrunk by more then 50% since then. The JHSV has a cost of $214m per a unit and that is for the early ships, Not uncommon for prices to fall for follow on vessels. So for the LCS maybe have an argument on cost, For the JHSV you have none.

        2. Existing, Better platforms – For the LCS yes there are existing platforms that could do the job (Not sure if better is appropriate when they haven’t utilized all the space available on the LCS) however for the JHSV name one ship that can transport 600 ton of cargo at a constant 35 knots 1,200nm and unload it all in half hour at a damaged port or even third world common warf? There are none.

  • aniptofar

    Hopefully this craze for vessels without firepower goes away. I’m still trying to understand the difference between the LCS and JHSV except a JHSV costs 1/3 less and is likely faster and more versatile.

    • Rob C.

      This is a high-speed transport. This isn’t a craze. I’d be worried if they took civilian ships and converted them into combat ship. LCS or not, The JHSV been around longer than them, been one the most successful programs Navy has had to their logistics side of house.

      • aniptofar

        High speed must be coupled with capacity. Much like the diameter and pressure of a hose. A small diameter hose can shoot out a stream but it is small The capacity is extremely limited for a modern military unit.

        I’m not sure what you mean by the last part. JHSVs except for the prototype vessels have only been out for a few years. They just delivered no. 4.

        • Matthew

          The JHSV is based off of a proven concept that has not actually had any bad press in the 13+ years it has been in use.

          High speed does not require it to be coupled with capacity, The reason for high speed is to deliver something there in a timely fashion, The high speed of the ship actually means it can make more trips then the larger slower ships. As they found with the MV Westpac Express it could deliver an IBCT 400nm while by use of a single C-17 would take 245 sorties.

          • aniptofar

            Well, you either know way more than me or way less.

          • Matthew

            Not trying to be a know it all but I find past experience as a good starting point, So far the JHSV has been one of the most successful applications of a new vessel type in modern history.

            But if you willing Im willing to take a wait and see approach, See how well or how poorly the Spearhead class JHSV performs in missions they are assigned to.

          • aniptofar

            My primary point is the mission designed for the JHSV are things we shouldn’t be doing.

          • Matthew

            Dont agree but for maturities sake agree to disagree? We are both entitled to our own view’s so no need for both of us to revert to grumbling toddlers =) But I did enjoy the debate mate.

          • aniptofar

            Well, we have no business policing the world. It’s a left over from the old communist domino theory.

    • OLD GUY

      You are right on. Providing “National defense” mods to all US flagged ships and JHSV would be a far better use of dwindling funds than the “make work” approach of building the Literally Chimeric Ship, We DO need a small, fast (~60 kts) ship, but that is an updated version of the now-defunct PHM.

      • aniptofar

        Speed of a ship is very expensive and limiting. I’ve never understood the quest for speed esp. when it relates to logistics when the capacity is limited. We have prepos for that. Prepos also bring fuel and water. While speed can be defensive, modern offensive systems dwarf the speed of ships at sea. The difference between 20 and 60 knots is nothing to a high speed missile or helicopter except that it could possibly get out of range… if given 6 or so hours to do so.

        • Matthew

          The reason for the speed is to be able to deliver supplies quickly as a stop gap measure. Do you want to wait a week to get supplies loaded and sent to a location of do you want to spend 24-72 hours to have a ship loaded sent off without the need to worry about if the port facilities if any can handle the prepo ship.

          The JHSV is there to deliver something in the smallest amount of time possible which is better then nothing being delivered.

          • aniptofar

            300 troops is not stop gap. It’s not even a speed bump.

          • Matthew

            300 troops with Tanks, APC’s, artillery etc is a decent force. And they can actually carry closer to 500 troops, Accommodation for 170 off troops but airline style seating for another 300+.

            If you need to get there in a hurry would you rather a couple plane loads of troops of would you prefer a couple plane loads of troops combined with a rapid reaction force transported via a JHSV that can deliver armored units to the ground in number’s quicker then anything else.

        • OLD GUY

          I can’t go into missile control and maneuver here but you should review the data developed in the late 80s that showed that PHM (hydrofoil) could outmaneuver subsonic missiles and shoot down (by water plume intercept) supersonic missiles at any plausible combat range. The only danger in a closed area, like the Persian Gulf is a swarm attack.
          I completely agree with you on “prepos” if you have administrative landing sites or ships or large Pomornik-like amphibious equipment. Opposed landings are a completely different ball game.

          • aniptofar

            My understanding was PHMs were somewhat of a failure which is why we don’t have them. Over the years I’ve been watching papers that come out of the naval post grad school and thinking Oh no… that won’t work. Those folks are now in charge.

          • OLD GUY

            On the contrary. the PHMs were markedly successful, mostly in counter drug use. Go to the web site for the International Hydrofoil Society for copious items on the subject. The main reason they were ditched was that it was a career killer. Being the Commodore of the PHM squadron was a path to retirement ask CAPT Frank Horn USN, Retd). Both the PHMs and the LSES virtually STOPPED drug traffic to Florida.

          • aniptofar

            “The ships were retired because they were not judged cost effective for their mission in a Navy with primarily offensive missions rather than coastal patrol.”

            Current custom’s boats go faster with three mercs. An LM2500 is not a cheap alternative.

          • OLD GUY

            Not so. customs speedboats have a 100 mile range at 45 kts.
            Check it out.

          • aniptofar

            They can do 70. I just was looking at a proposal for one.

          • Secundius

            @ aniptofar.

            If you read that from the same article, by the IDIOT that said that the crew’s of these vessels were to receive ROLEX watches too, You must read more carefully, the highest speed recorded for this vessel was 50-knots. The only way this boat is ever going to reach 70-knots, is by adding a Rockedyne F-1 Rocket Motor. Fueled by RP-1/LOX rocket fuel, developing 1,529,600-pounds of thrust.

          • aniptofar

            Read it of the customs and border patrol website and fed ops.

    • Matthew

      The USN has always had vessels without firepower, Usually they are logistics ships so unless you plan on doing away with the ability to supply forces abroad then you will have to put up with unarmed ships.