Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) /
Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)
The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), formerly named the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), is a shallow draft, all aluminum, commercial-based catamaran capable of intra theater personnel and cargo lift. The EPF is designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles [2,222 Kilometers] at an average speed of 35 knots in Sea State 3.
The EPF designator may be a bit confusing to land lubbers, who might expect to se EFT for Expeditionary Fast Transport. But old salts will recognize that the designation begins with P for Passenger, then modifies this with F for Fast, and then adds the idiosyncratic E for Expeditionary.
The distance from Guam to Taiwan is 2,750 kilometers. This sea travel distance is equal to 1,700 miles. The sea travel (bird fly) shortest distance between Guam and South Korea is 3,016 km= 1,874 miles. The distance between Seoul and Okinawa is 1,250 kilometers (777 miles), while the distance from Okinawa to North Korea to is 1,570 kilometers. This air travel distance is equal to 975 miles. The calculated distance between Okinawa and Taipei is approximately 400 Miles , about 645 Kilometers.
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.
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 was expected to deliver to the Army in 2012 and the planned delivery of USNS Vigilant (JHSV 2) to the Navy was 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.
In an email exchange sorting out Military Sealift Command flag procurement for USNS Spearhead - MSC's joint high speed vessel1 - the vessel's civil service master, Capt. Douglas Casavant, noted how a normal flag may stand up to Spearhead operation. "I hope they make them in Kevlar - when we're at speed, we will shred a regular flag!" wrote Casavant.
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