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The following High Speed Vessel concept paper is a DRAFT that is evolving based on lessons learned from concept development and experimentation.  Additional material on high speed vessel experimentation is available at the NWDC SIPRNET web site at

High Speed Vessel (HSV):

Adaptability, Modularity and Flexibility for the Joint Force



Current technology has emerged in the form of high-speed surface vessels, which may enable significantly enhanced brigade-sized (5000-7000 Soldiers/Marines) operational maneuver from the sea by the Navy/Marine Corps team at high speed and long range.

The commercial sector has already developed and demonstrated a number of relevant technologies and capabilities; specifically, high-speed ships (45+ kts), long range at endurance speeds (30 kts, >4000 nm), good sea keeping ability (30 kts in 4.5-5 meter seas), shallow draft (12-14 ft) and ease of rapid modular adaptability to multiple missions. A singular baseline configuration, depicted here, with a dedicated crew of 20, remotely injected with a tailorable and versatile C4I capability could allow rapid mission reconfiguration (within hours) and the embarkation of roll on / roll off mission specific equipment or modules, with specific staffs and personnel tailored to meet a wide variety of military tasks.

These rapidly adaptive characteristics create opportunities for adopting transformational alternative operational concepts for bringing military power to bear at responsive speeds from long range. The current Joint Venture HSV-XI experimentation series will support the development and refinement of these missions using Network Centric principles and existing and proposed fleet modular capabilities.

Specifically, the HSV technology has the potential to better balance and transform the Fleet for operation in the information age over a wide variety of missions including assuring access in the littorals. Our future will rely on and most certainly require a mix of traditional forces along with the emerging HSV capabilities in order to successfully accomplish the full spectrum of future missions from Humanitarian Assistance, Logistic Support to NEO and Power Projection capabilities to gain, maintain and sustain access in the littorals. Assuring access to the world's littorals by Navy striking forces and Army / Marine combat elements is clearly a fundamental imperative for our 21st century Navy.



The modular adaptive concept of the HSV brings into focus four significant 21st century realities:

- The emergence and development of Expeditionary Sensor Grid (ESG), Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), Global Information Grid (GIG), and FORCE NET all supporting the tenets of Network Centric Operations (NCO), will sharply increase combat power at the individual ship and force levels. The electronic keel or data bus of the HSV which provides the information back-plane that ensures C4ISR connectivity and shared awareness required for the information age, will create the design and investment trade space to allow HSV the ability to rapidly reconfigure, much as our multi mission F/A-18 does today.

- Sustained access to the world's oceans and littorals, to space, and to cyberspace remain a strategic, operational, and a tactical imperative. The ability of HSV to rapidly reconfigure ensures that those rapidly developing missions such as NEO, MCM, responsive Logistics support and sustainment, required and demanded by the Joint Force commander, will be immediately tailorable and responsive by a maritime force structure to better meet his operational needs and commitments.

- Current acquisition strategies and fiscal choices that result in the concentration of combat power at the expense of robustness and force size (numbers) could truncate force utility while sharply increasing risk and vulnerability. Numbers count; the real cost of a baseline HSV is commercially proven to be an order of magnitude less than current existing programs including the cost of development and acquisition (estimated costs are $70-100 million for baseline militarized vessel).

- Demonstrated new technologies such as modern composite materials, vessels with high speed (> 45 kts.), and shallow draft (12-14 ft fully loaded), and long range (> 4000 nm at > 30 kts) enable a considerably expanded trade space yielding increased robustness, flexibility of employment, and mission effectiveness. With regard to surface combatants, the three key elements of combat power, sustainability, and robustness under stress are no longer clearly coupled to displacement. Proven composite ship construction and the development of new hull forms allows for the construction of entirely different classes of ships capable of sea-worthiness and payload fractions (30-50%) unachievable by the traditional construction techniques.

The future warfighting environment will place higher value on maneuver, sensing, signature control, speed, battlespace preparation, numbers, modularity, adaptability and risk tolerance in addition to and coupled with the robust power projection capabilities of our current force. Each of these characteristics of a future force will directly impact the U.S. Navy's ability to respond to crises while we secure, maintain, and exploit access. While analysis continues to validate the foregoing, the confluence of analysis to date points to the increasing combat value of smaller, faster, reconfigurable, and modularly adaptable surface vessels for the future Navy.

Baseline HSV Characteristics



HSV is part of a larger concept for sizing, shaping, operating, and continuously transforming the Navy to meet evolving challenges. A clear operational vision and the strategy to achieve it must be in consonance with the evolving nature of war, the principles of combined joint operation, and emerging technologies and concepts. Some examples of mission possible reconfigurability are constructed within these pages.

A preeminent characteristic resident in the emerging High Speed Vessel (HSV) concept is the flexibility to modularly adapt and reconfigure to meet a number of mission profiles from a singular cost effective baseline vessel configuration. Instrumental is the capacity of the baseline configuration to accept and integrate existing modular suites, containers, and readily mobile transportable mission specific equipment onto its reconfigurable cargo spaces and to rapidly plug them into a standardized electronic keel. Simultaneously, with rapid reconfiguration, the HSV can embark the requisite staff assigned to meet the assigned missions. This operational scheme may allow the fullest, most flexible and adaptable design for employing a vessel for several different requirements and provide the fleet with the most responsive capability at the lowest total system cost. The small core crew size is also easily accommodated with a forward deployed Blue / Gold or "Horizon" manning scheme.

Resident in the proposed total mission baseline would include key features such as; a helicopter deck, aircraft/cargo elevator, multi-function command and control suite along with vehicle ramps and vehicle stowage areas for roll-on and roll-off containers, vehicles, mission planning cells, crew quarters, living spaces as well as weapon modules, adding to its enormous versatility.

The Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), along with partner commands, has attempted to ensure that developing HSV concepts developing through HSV-XI Joint Venture are compatible with existing and proposed mobile units and systems. NWDC along with industry has developed an initial baseline configuration that could serve as a starting point for a modularly adaptable vehicle based on an off-the-self, 112 meter, 12 foot draft design. Illustrated below are some of the possibilities;

Baseline HSV Capabilities



  • Optimal manning with a permanent crew of 20, augmented with staff as necessary for tailored specific mission profiles.
  • Galley for permanent crew messing, seating for 150
  • Crew lounge
  • A flight deck permitting simultaneous launch and recovery of two SH/MH/CH-60S SeaHawk helicopters
  • Helicopter equipment storage lockers
  • Multifunctional elevator
    • Movement of helicopters from flight deck to/from vehicle deck
    • Movement of VERTREP cargo from flight deck to/from vehicle deck
    • Launch and recovery of small boats, AAVs through "Moon Pool" in vehicle deck
  • Multipurpose spaces (administrative, planning, briefing)
  • Medical facility to maintain crew health
  • Self-defense capability with SEARAM and netted to CEC
  • Length 370 feet
  • Waterline Length 347 feet
  • Beam 100 feet
  • Draft 12 feet
  • Deadweight (operational) 1102 ST
  • Main Engines 4 X Ruston 20RK280 diesel engines
  • Waterjets 4 X LIPS 155E
  • Crew berthing Up to 51 personnel
  • Passenger capability Seating for 300 troops
  • Cargo Deck 28,740 sq. feet
  • Cargo Deck (& mezzanine) 41,440 sq. feet

Existing HSV-X1 Layout

Baseline C4ISR Suite

  • 6 Operators, 3 Technicians
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Virtually any Collaboration suite
  • Long haul TCP/IP/ATM WAN B/W up to 27Mbps
  • USA ENRPS (Mobile Battle Sys. ASAS, AFTDS, GCCS-A, etc.)
  • JCA
  • GBS
  • Phone service through teleport
  • 8 simultaneous radio/types (4 Tactical)
  • VTC
  • Large screen video display of any installed applications

Logistic Configuration based on III MEF

HSVs ability to transport a battalion and its combat equipment delivered together at high speeds in one trip is a great advantage to this combatant CINC. The WestPAC HSV has already proven the capacity to reliably transport a 400-ton load to include 370 Marines and their camp gear, five Cobra helicopters, two Huey helicopters and aviation ground support equipment from Japan to Guam within 40 hours at far less time and cost than the currently employed airlift. In another configuration the HSV would be able to move over 800 Soldiers/Marines, 60 ground vehicles and 30 storage containers from the Kin pier to Yokohama in under 30 hours. Dependency on movements which traditionally have taken two to three weeks using airlift, spread out over several lifts with shifting priorities, on often unreliable schedules at high cost would no longer be necessary. These are a few examples of how the HSV has already been able to embark large payloads, transport them at high speeds, and deliver a credible and potent combat power ready to fight and then rapidly change from employment to a sustainment role.

To Date III MEF use of a contracted WestPAC HSV for Theater support has shown:

  • One Battalion, One Lift. Keeping combat power intact with Marines and equipment together. Load and unload times under one hour.
  • The capacity to transport over 400 tones of equipment, along with passengers; 750 tonnes Maximum Deadweight: 970 Soldiers/Marines in comfortable airline-style reclining seats and 152 HMMWVs or 12 AAVPs and 20 LAVs. Multiple load combinations of tractor trailers, water tankers, etc. in vehicle deck with RO/RO vehicles/trailers.
  • Note: Current Air Mobility Command strategic airlift support (AMC) to move same number of Marines and equipment would require 14 to 17 military aircraft spread out over a 14 to 17-day period.
  • Combined > 40,000 square feet of storage space.
  • HSV configured for "field conditions," berthing / hotel service trailers were added for Soldiers / Marines to meet mission specific needs.
  • Use of HSV has resulted in a sizable reduction in the number of aircraft flights into and out of Kadena Air Base, decreasing the noise impact on politically sensitive communities. Estimated decrease from a single HSV is more than 200 flights annually.
  • Significant decrease in road travel by military trucks and buses in the more congested southern portion of Okinawa in and around Naha transiting to Kadena. Transit from Camps Schwab and Hansen, Okinawa presently takes 1-2 hours one way vice the less than one hour loading of the HSV at Kin Red Pier adjacent to Camp Hansen.

Mine Warfare Command and Control Configuration

The HSV’s demonstrated seakeeping characteristics and ability to quickly integrate modularized mine warfare capabilities would provide a more responsive, stable, seaworthy, and tailorable C2 platform for the MIWC, capable of coordinating MCM operations from the sea.

Proposed MCW load out would include:

  • 60 additional staff and personnel
  • Four SH/MH-60S helos
  • Six berthing trailers (10 berths per trailer)
  • Two hotel services trailers (toilet/shower)

By 2010 MCM assets could be "assigned" to the CVBG, ARG, or forward based available for tasking by the MIWC. This organic capability is currently planned to be deployed from CVN, DDG, and SSN assets. The proposed deployment of the assigned MCM systems from these current platforms may have negative impact on their primary missions which sub optimizes their use in several mission areas. Use of a MCM configured HSV as the mission need arises would eliminate those conflicts at affordable costs. Experimental objectives will include the C2 concept as well as suitability of the HSV to launch and recover future MCM vehicles and sensors (HSV (MIW) as MCM-X augment. The militarized HSV would be able to quickly deploy a variety of MH HELO / RHIB / UUV / USV in support of MIW with a covert internal "launch between the hulls" capability.

Current experimentation objectives include:

  • Utilize the HSV as a MCM-X platform with future MCM Unmanned Underwater Vessels tasked by the MIWC.
  • Two Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, provided by the Office of Naval Research, to operate from the HSV examining launch and recovery suitability as well as data download and insertion into the Common Tactical Picture CTP. These UUVs are Battlespace Planning Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (BPAUV) and REMUS.
  • EOD Det embarked and deploy from the HSV to execute a Raise, Tow and Beach Mine Exploitation mission about 60 NM away from the GOMEX AOA which will be conducted between UUV launch and recovery missions.
  • Embarked MIWC on MCS. A command center with a full C4ISR suite installed on the HSV, which will provide C4ISR capabilities of a MICFAC. GCCS-M/MEDAL, NMWS and SIPRNET connectivity will be used to input UUV data into the CTP as well as allow the MIWC to observe the GOMEX tactical picture and support tactical decision making.

Medical Support Facility / NEO / Humanitarian Assistance / Natural Disaster Configuration

Future High Speed Vessels may be the preeminent choice for these humanitarian mission areas because of is rapid reaction in speed of delivery as well as its adaptability and modular refitting of cargo. Initially evaluated by the Royal Australian Navy experience in East Timor, with a significantly less capable platform, the high speed, RO/RO capability and twelve foot draft enabling access to shallow water austere ports, provided the capabilities to ingress / egress easily and quickly, care for large numbers of personnel, transport them to a safe haven and return to the scene at high speed in order to continue the effort. These rapidly loadable vessels can effectively switch from an employment role to a sustainment role for a deployed force almost immediately.

A Single baseline HSV can be configured to carry:

  • Six semi-trailers with fully-equipped operating rooms
  • Four water tankers
  • Four food trailers
  • Four toilet/shower trailers
  • Eight to Twelve passenger busses
  • Radiological services
  • Medical laboratory to include; pharmacy, optometry lab, and cat scan
  • Mobile oxygen producing plant
  • Portal between twin Hulls providing a lee in order to take on patients at sea
  • Four Semi-Trailers hospital bed facility

Anti-Terrorism Force Protection / Homeland Security / Maritime Intercept Operations Configuration

A single HSV configured for the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection role could provide a significant capability to operate a scalable force protection augmentation package in support of U.S. Navy port visits and force protection requirements. Within the Homeland Security (HLS) scenarios, it is envisioned that maritime forces, both US Navy and USCG, will be required to investigate, query, intercept and potentially board high-risk vessels. These missions will be rapid in nature, often directed on short notice but at a sufficient distance from CONUS to prevent danger to the continental US. To support this mission high speed, wide ranging, responsive, suitably equipped, maritime tasking is required.

HSV configured for ATFP / Maritime Intercept Operations (MIO) package:

  • Augments ship’s force protection capabilities and provides a full spectrum of landside/waterside security functions for ship port visits.
  • Force level protection is rapidly scalable and tailored to threat and host nation considerations.
  • Minimizes high cost airlift and local civilian contracting requirements by bringing organic mission support capabilities with the vessel (C2, berthing/messing, barriers, etc.)
    • 44 additional personnel
    • Two 21' RHIBs rapidly deployed via "Moon Pool" with boarding/security party
    • Team of working dogs (cage area on vehicle deck 20'x20')
    • Four HMMWVs
    • Mammal pool (20'x20'x4' total weight 3500 pounds) deployed through "Moon Pool"
    • Support USCG HH-60J JayHawk involved in SAR/Armed Recon/Drug Interdiction

Notional Homeland Security (HLS) package:

  • 22 additional personnel
  • Two 21' RHIBs rapidly deployed via "Moon Pool" with boarding/security party
  • Two USCG HH-60J or Special Forces (MH-6) on deck (up to Six in vehicle storage area)

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