Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)
The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program was the result of a signed Department of Army (DA) and Department of Navy (DoN) Memorandum of Intent (MOI), which proposed merging of the Army's Theater Support Vessel (TSV) program and the Marine Corps/Navy High Speed intra-theater surface Connector (HSC) program into a joint (multi-service) High Speed Vessel program.
The JHSV program would combine the two separate programs (TSV and HSC) and take advantage of inherent commonality of hull forms to create a more flexible asset for the Department of Defense and leverage the Navy's core competency in ship acquisition. The JHSV program would provide high speed intra-theater surface connector capability to rapidly deploy selected portions of the Joint Force that can immediately transition to execution, even in the absence of developed infrastructure, and conduct deployment and sustainment activities in support of multiple simultaneous, distributed, decentralized battles and campaigns. The primary missions include: support to Theater Security Cooperation Program (TSCP) and Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), littoral maneuver, and seabasing support.
The JHSV would be acquired competitively and production would be based in the United States. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program Acquisition Strategy would be formally established once the Joint Initial Capabilities Document (JICD) and Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) efforts were finalized. The JHSV program would provide high speed intra-theater surface connector capability to rapidly deploy selected portions of the Joint Force that can immediately transition to execution, even in the absence of developed infrastructure, and conduct deployment and sustainment activities in support of multiple simultaneous, distributed, decentralized battles and campaigns.
The Joint High Speed Vessel program was managed by PMS 325. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Army and Navy Service Acquisition Executives (SAEs) established, in January 2005, a balanced approach to development of a combined program under the acquisition lead of a Navy program office (PMS-325) in PEO Ships. It was a Navy led acquisition of a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program was a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intra-theatre transport of medium sized cargo payloads. JHSV was intended to reach speeds of 35-45 knots and allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or Special Forces as well as equipment and supplies.
Based on the efforts accomplished and data collected to date by the two services, it appeared that a hardware solution would incorporate the evolutionary development of commercial based high speed vessel technology employing integrated military unique capabilities/adaptations. The JHSV would be acquired competitively and production would be based in the United States. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program Acquisition Strategy would be formally established once the Joint Initial Capabilities Document (JICD) and Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) efforts are finalized.
The JHSV would be capable of transporting personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances in support of maneuver and sustainment operations. The JHSV would be able to transport Army and Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to become a troop transport for an infantry battalion. This would enable units to transit operational distances while maintaining unit integrity, reducing the need for conducting RSO&I operations following offload.
The JHSV would include a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that would allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp would be suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. The JHSV would also be shallow draft (under 15 feet) that would further enhance access by enabling the JHSV to operate in shallow waters. These requirements would make the JHSV an extremely flexible asset able to 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 Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) would operate at speeds up to four times greater than the current fleet. This would provide the Army with the capability to support operational maneuver from standoff distance, bypass land-based choke-points, and reduce the logistics footprint in the Area of Responsibility. This ability to transport both troops and their equipment, and to provide an En route Mission Planning and Rehearsal System, did not previously exist.
As prime contractor, Austal was awarded the construction contract for the first 103-meter JHSV in November 2008, with options for nine additional vessels between FY09 and FY13. The Austal JHSV team includes platform systems engineering agent General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems who 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.
Austal received authorisation from the Navy to start construction on the first vessel of the contract, Spearhead (JHSV 1), in December 2009 after completing the rigorous design over a 12-month period. Spearhead was scheduled for launch in August 2011 and delivery in December 2011. Construction on Vigilant (JHSV 2), began at Austal’s Mobile, Alabama, USA shipyard on September 13, 2010. On June 07, 2010 the US Navy exercised contract options funding Austal’s acquisition of long lead-time equipment associated with the construction of two additional 103 meter Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). Austal was awarded the initial contract to design and build the first 103 metre JHSV in November 2008, with contracts for an additional two vessels awarded in January 2010.
On July 01, 2011 the U.S. Navy exercised contract options funding the construction of the sixth and seventh Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), as part of a ten-vessel program potentially worth over US$1.6 billion. The construction contract for both vessels is valued at approximately US$313 million. Austal Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Bellamy, noted that this contract demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s confidence in Austal as a leading defence prime contractor. “With options remaining for a further three vessels, the JHSV program is expected to deliver a predictable revenue stream of AUD$330 million per annum from 2012 to 2015, which is approximately 60 per cent of Austal’s historical revenue.”
Austal USA’s President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Rella remarked, “this award facilitates the continued development and growth of our U.S. operations, as well as the expansion of our Alabama workforce from over 2,000 to nearly 4,000."
The U.S. Navy christened the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) “Spearhead” on Saturday, September 17, 2011, at a ceremony at Austal’s U.S. shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. Spearhead is expected to deliver to the Army in 2012 and the planned delivery of USNS Vigilant (JHSV 2) to the Navy is also expected in 2012.
The Navy decided to entrust operation of the joint high-speed vessels, or JHSVs, to civilian mariners rather than Navy service members. That reflects a vote of confidence by the most senior Navy leadership in the capabilities of merchant mariners to successfully operate these unique platforms and to represent the interests of the United States in the international community. MSC was assigned responsibility to determine whether to crew the ships with MSC's government employee CIVMARs, or by contracting with a ship operating company that would employ U.S. citizen contract mariners, or CONMARs, who would crew the ships and be responsible for virtually all aspects of on-board operations and maintenance. The first four JHSVs – including “Spearhead” – will be crewed by federally employed civil service mariners [MSC CIVMAR], and the remaining six will be crewed by civilian contract mariners [CONMARs] working for private shipping companies under contract to MSC through a competitively awarded contract. Military mission personnel will embark as required by the mission sponsors.
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