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Vomit comet makes berth in Iwakuni

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 3/21/2004

Story by Pfc. Lydia Davey

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan(February 28, 2004) -- A sleek, gray, high-speed experimental vessel, the IX-532 Joint Venture (HSV-X1), pulled into Iwakuni Port for the first time Feb. 28.

The vessel, known affectionately as "the vomit comet" by first-time travelers, arrived to pick up 190 passengers and a cargo of aircraft support equipment, said Army Chief Warrant Officer Tim Turner, the Joint Venture's executive officer.

The Joint Venture is working in support of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force's Operation Foal Eagle, said Turner.

According to the Catamaran Company, the HSV, formerly a car and passenger ferry, was "adopted" by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Tampa based U.S. Special Operations Command.

Military officials believed that the HSV could improve upon conventional ships for missions such as mine warfare, special operations, homeland security, humanitarian evacuation and the shipment of troops and cargo.

According to www.globalsecurity. org, the Joint Venture underwent six weeks of technical and structural modifications for U.S. Army service in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Included in the modifications were a two-part, hydraulically operated vehicle ramp, and the installation of a helicopter pad.

The 326-foot ship can carry several hundred tons of cargo and up to 363 passengers, said Turner. Inner-theater operations have kept the Joint Venture busy hopping from port to port, he added.

The ship boasts a weight room, day room with movies and video games purchased by Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and galley that serves four meals throughout the day, said Turner. The all-male crew of 30 also enjoys a real sense of camaraderie, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Etrada.

Last year the crew was gone from their homeport for over 200 days, Etrada said. And, although the year was sometimes hard on "newlyweds and guys with families," the men performed their duties well.

"I have a great crew," said Etrada. "They're motivated, disciplined. They know what they've gotta' do, and they do it."

According to the Web site, use of the HSV-X1 will result in a reduction of aircraft flights and will reduce the noise impact on surrounding communities.

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