Last week, Austal USA announced it successfully completed the launch process of the second Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), the recently christened USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2). This 103-meter high-speed catamaran represents the U.S. Department of Defense’s next generation multi-use platform. It is part of a 10-ship program potentially worth over $1.6 billion.
Brian Leathers, Austal USA interim president and CFO commented in a release, “This is the ship’s first voyage, one of many in its future. Austal designed this ship to serve as a rapid transit workhorse for our military to assist in humanitarian efforts and to transport troops and their equipment from port to port. It is due to the important role that it will play in intra-theatre deployment/transportation that the Austal JHSV team takes such pride in our part in facilitating the success of the JHSV program.”
The launch of USNS Choctaw County was conducted in a multi-step process as follows:
1) On Sunday, September 30, Goldhofer self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) lifted the entire 1,600-metric-ton ship almost three feet in the air and moved the JHSV approximately 400 feet onto a moored deck barge adjacent to the assembly bay.
2) The deck barge with USNS Choctaw County onboard was towed a half mile down river to BAE Systems’ Southeast Shipyard, Mobile.
3) The vessel was transferred to the Drydock Alabama, BAE’s floating dry dock.
4) The floating dry dock was submerged and USNS Choctaw County entered the water for the first time.
5) USNS Choctaw County was taken from the drydock and towed back up river to Austal USA’s facility, where it will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the Navy.
This process was initially used during the launch event for the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship Coronado (LCS 4) in January 2012, according to the release. The new roll-out method has reduced the time of the transfer process, and serves as a capstone in Austal’s effort to reduce cost and time required in future JHSV and LCS deliveries, the company said.
BAE Systems Southeast Shipyard’s Director and General Manager, Vic Rhoades said in a statement, “The opportunity to team with the professional men and women of Austal to successfully launch USNS Choctaw County (JHSV2) is a positive step for both organizations. By working together we can take advantage of the synergies of both shipyards by providing the knowledge and experience from our individual areas of expertise that will grow our respective businesses and allow us to provide quality products at competitive prices to our customers.”