On Sept. 30, 2014, Austal USA successfully completed the launch process of Trenton (JHSV 5) — the second Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) launched by Austal in 2014. 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 worth over US$1.6 billion.
The launch of Trenton was conducted in a multi-step process that involved having Berard Transportation transfer the ship from Assembly Bay 3 onto a Crowley deck barge, which was then towed to BAE Systems Southeast Shipyard. The next day, Trenton was transferred onto BAE’s dry dock Alabama. It was floated then returned to Austal’s facility where it will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the Navy in Spring 2015.
JHSV 5 is now one of four Austal-built Navy ships moored in the Mobile River, joining USNS Fall River (JHSV 4), Montgomery (LCS 8), and Jackson (LCS 6).
As of last week, Austal has delivered four of ten contracted JHSVs in two years to the Navy. Construction is well underway on Brunswick (JHSV 6) which will begin final assembly in, now vacant, Assembly Bay 3 in October, and construction began on Carson City (JHSV 7) earlier this month.
The JHSV is a relatively new asset that will be an important Navy connector. In peacetime, JHSVs will be operating forward supporting Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and riverine forces, theater cooperating missions, Seabees, Marine Corps and Army transportation. Each JHSV also supports helicopter operations and has a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter which enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries. A shallow draft (under 4 meters) will further enhance theater port access.
Austal USA is also prime contractor for the construction of ten Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), a contract totaling $3.5 billion. Six of these ships are under construction at this time.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. For the JHSV program, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the navigation and communication systems, C4I and aviation systems. As the Independence-variant LCS ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems.