JHSV construction begins
Construction of the first Joint High Speed Vessel begins in Mobile, Ala. The JHSVs will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment for a variety of global missions.

MOBILE, Ala. (July 22, 2010) -- The Department of Defense's Joint High Speed Vessel, commonly hailed as the future workhorse of the Army and Navy, is moving full steam ahead.

In a ceremony attended by many, the Army and Navy authenticated the keel for the future U.S. Army Vessel Spearhead at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., a major milestone symbolically recognizing the beginning of ship construction.

"Today, Spearhead embarks on a transition from a two-dimensional image into three-dimensional reality," said Arthur Divens Jr., executive director for Amphibious Warfare and Auxiliary Sealift Office, PEO Ships. "With her own sprit and identity, Spearhead and her sisters represent the very best our nation has to offer."

Spearhead will be the first ship built as part of the JHSV program, lead by Capt. George Sutton of the Navy's Program Executive Office Ships Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Office.

"The relationship between the Army and Navy is a great example of cohesive teamwork between the services. We are diligently working to ensure long-term affordability and sustainment, while simultaneously fulfilling the needs of combatant commanders across the globe," added Kevin Fahey, Army's PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

During the ceremony, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Brian R. Layer, chief of Transportation, addressed how the JHSV gives combatant commanders the flexibility to maneuver operationally in a variety of missions, including Overseas Contingency Operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, special operations and emerging seabasing concepts in austere port environments.

"JHSV will bring our nation the flexibility and ability to rapidly respond across the full spectrum of operations...this vessel has the capability to re-write history," added Layer.

To ensure JHSV aligns with the approved acquisition plan, the program underwent a rigorous production review process prior to the start of construction, closely evaluating the ship's design maturity, the availability of materials and components, and the shipbuilder's ability to successfully start fabrication.

"The JHSV's aggressive and streamlined acquisition process and the service's ability to leverage commercial investments has allowed us to provide a more maneuverable and flexible vessel to our Warfighters," said Col. R. Eric Fletcher, the Army's project manager for Force Projection.

The future USAV Spearhead is expected to be delivered to the Army's 7th Sustainment Brigade in fiscal year 2012. The second ship of the class, the future USNS Vigilant, will be delivered to the Navy the following year.

The ship's sponsor, retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kenneth M. Wahlman, authenticated the keel-laying event by welding his initial into the hull section with the assistance of an Austal Fabricator.

"The keel represents the joining of modular components," said Ms. Shannon Tighe, product director for Army Watercraft. "It will be woven into place and will sail with the vessel throughout her life."

The JHSVs will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment for a variety of global missions. The ships will be capable of transporting 600 short tons over 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.

They will be 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). Other joint requirements include an aviation flight deck to support day and night air-vehicle launch and recovery operations.

Representing the future crew of USAV Spearhead was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bill Slusher, 469th Transportation Detachment, Fort Eustis, Va.

"It is a privilege to be here today representing a crew of 31-strong Army mariners. This is a great step for Army mariners and Army watercraft. I am truly humbled to be a part of this; it is a great honor," said Slusher.

Army mariners have already started training on JHSV simulators and said they are looking forward to manning the first JHSV Spearhead.

Page last updated Wed July 28th, 2010 at 15:40