The Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) successfully completed acceptance trials on Jan. 9 in the Gulf of Mexico. This milestone achievement involved the performance of intense comprehensive tests by the Navy while underway, which demonstrated the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment. This is the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship, which is expected in late January.

This vessel is the third of 10 JHSVs that Austal USA has been contracted by the Navy to build in its Mobile, Ala. shipyard. The Navy selected Austal as the prime contractor for this $1.6 billion contract in 2008. Austal’s teaming partner, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (a business unit of General Dynamics), is the ship systems integrator, responsible for the design, integration and testing of the navigation and communications systems, C4I and aviation systems.

As the U.S. Department of Defense’s multiuse platform, the 103-m. JHSV will provide rapid intra-theater deployment/transportation of personnel, equipment and supplies. The vessel will support military logistics, sustainment and humanitarian relief operations at speeds of up to 43 knots. The JHSV will transport medium-size operational units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to provide troop transport for an infantry battalion, allowing units to transit long distances while maintaining unit integrity. The vessel 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 m.) will further enhance theater port access.

USNS Millinocket will soon be followed by USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) which Austal christened and launched this month. Fabrication and assembly is well underway on USNS Trenton (JHSV 5) and the first aluminum for USNS Brunswick (JHSV 6) will be cut in mid-January.

Austal has been contracted by the Navy to build 10 103-m. JHSVs and eight 127-m. Independence-variant LCS class ships (including USS Independence (LCS 2) and USS Coronado (LCS 4) already delivered to the Navy), six of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.