The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program is procuring high-speed transport vessels for the fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. These commercially designed, non-combatant vessels leverage commercial technology and do not require the development of any new technology. The JHSV program merges the previous Army Theater Support Vessel (TSV) and the Navy High Speed Connector (HSC) to decrease costs by taking advantage of the inherent commonality between the existing programs. Significant production and financial risks have been avoided by implementing proven technology, ensuring stable requirements, minimizing change, and pursuing cost reduction and efficiency. JHSV is being built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) High Speed Naval Craft Guide standards.
Ship Sponsor Ms. Virginia A. Kamsky breaks the champagne bottle across the bow of JHSV 5 during the christening ceremony for the USNS Trenton on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. Standing beside Ms. Kamsky are Honor Attendant Michael Kamsky and Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. Also watching are the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy; CAPT Susan Orsini, United States Merchant Marine; and the Honorable Eric Jackson, mayor of Trenton, N.J. (U.S. Navy photo Courtesy Austal USA/Released).
The JHSV is designed to transport 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots in sea state 3. The ships are capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). The JHSV includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allows vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. JHSV’s shallow draft (under 15 feet) will further enhance littoral operations and port access. This makes the JHSV an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport.
The JHSV program also benefits from a newly constructed Modular Manufacturing Facility at Austal USA, the prime contractor, in Mobile, Ala. The facility aids in production of high quality ship modules improving efficiency, capacity, production planning, and process control. Modular manufacturing will reduce duration of construction, lower production costs, and mitigate risk. With over 740,000 square feet of manufacturing space, the facility is capable of constructing six large aluminum vessels per year.
JHSVs have a crew of 22 manned by civilian mariners; with airline style seating for more than 312 embarked forces and fixed berthing for 104. Military Sealift Command operates and sustain the JHSVs. JHSVs will be allocated via global force management for theater security cooperation service unique missions, intra-theater sealift, and special missions.
On Nov. 13, 2008, the Navy awarded Austal USA, Mobile, Ala. a fixed-price incentive contract modification for detail design and construction of one JHSV. The contract modification also included options for the construction of up to nine additional ships and associated shore-based spares. All contract options have been awarded.
The Navy has now accepted delivery of four JHSVs. USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) and USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) were the most recent, delivering on March 21, 2014 and Sept. 15, 2014 respectively joining USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) and USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2). USNS Trenton (JHSV 5) launched on Sept. 30, 2014 and is slated to deliver in spring 2015.
The program initially divided the ten prospective ships of the JHSV class into five ships for assignment to the Army and five ships for assignment to the Navy. However, both services agreed to transfer the Army's five JHSVs to the Navy at the Army/Navy Warfighter Talks in December 2010. Both departments signed a memorandum of agreement May 2, 2011 transferring all five of the Army's joint high-speed vessels to the Navy resulting in all ten JHSVs being assigned to the Navy.