Austal USA held christening ceremonies in September for the U.S. Navy’s first Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV) — the Spearhead. The aluminum catamaran measures 337’10″×93’6″.
The JHSVs will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment.
The christening festivities took place in Mobile, Ala., across the Mobile River from Austal at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center. From the large terrace at the convention center, those in attendance could look across the river and see the Spearhead at the shipyard’s dock. Austal’s second littoral combat ship, Coronado (LCS 4), was also visible in the construction building adjacent to the JHSV.
“We hope JHSVs will continue to be built beyond the next nine vessels we expect to build over the next few years,” Joe Rella, Austal USA’s president and chief operating officer told the audience. “Ten years ago, when Austal USA responded to a Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command ‘Sources Sought’ for the Theater Logistics Vessel — the predecessor ship for the JHSV — we were a brand new shipyard. Today, with the christening of the Spearhead, we can truly celebrate our role as a member of the exclusive U.S. naval shipbuilding community.”
The JHSV is a transport vessel with a round bilge and bulbous bow. Its design comes from an Austal commercial ferry design, with slight modifications for military use. Spearhead will be capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on-and-off loading of a combat-ready battle tank. Other requirements include a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Level I, Class 2 certified aviation flight deck to support day and night helicopter launch and recovery operations. The vessel also has a NAVAIR Level I, Class 4, Type 2 certified VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment) helicopter control station.
The Spearhead features 20,053 sq. ft. of deck area, 41 crew bunks, 312 troop seats, 104 permanent troop berths, and room for 48 in the mess areas. The vessel is also equipped with an articulated slewing stern vehicle ramp.
Four MTU 20V8000 M7 11 diesel engines, producing 12,203 hp at 1,150 rpm each, supply the JHSV with its main propulsion. The mains connect to four Wärtsilä WLD 1400 SR waterjets through ZF 60000R2H marine gears. Maximum speed without payload is 43 knots, with a running speed (with payload) of 35 knots. Its range will be 1,200 nautical miles.
Spearhead will remain at Austal USA for additional outfitting until around February. The shipyard currently has contracts to deliver six more JHSVs and expects to sign contracts for three more.