The USA’s Spearhead-class, expeditionary fast transports
October 24/18: EPF-1 ROH Colonna’s Shipyard is being contracted to work on the Navy’s first Spearhead-class ship during the ship’s upcoming regular overhaul and dry docking phase. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $7.9 million and provides for a 67-calendar day shipyard availability. The contractor will be responsible to conduct structural inspection of the hull, perform a variety of repairs, support the main propulsion engine’s overhaul, replace heater exchangers and perform gear maintenance. The USNS Spearhead is an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship that was launched in 2011, it is designed for the fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment with aviation support. Work will be performed at Colonna’s shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. The Regular Overhaul availability is expected to be completed by January, 2019.
When moving whole units, shipping is always the cheaper, higher-capacity option. Slow speed and port access are the big issues, but what if ship transit times could be cut sharply, and full-service ports weren’t necessary? After Australia led the way by using what amounted to fast car ferries for military operations, the US Army and Navy decided to give it a go. Both services leased Incat TSV/HSV wave-piercing catamaran ship designs, while the Marines’ charged ahead with very successful use of Austal’s Westpac Express high-speed catamaran. These Australian-designed ships all give commanders the ability to roll on a company with full gear and equipment (or roll on a full infantry battalion if used only as a troop transport), haul it intra-theater distances at 38 knots, then move their shallow draft safely into austere ports to roll them off.
Their successful use, and continued success on operations, attracted favorable comment and notice from all services. So favorable that the experiments have led to a $3+ billion program called the Joint High Speed Vessel. These designs may even have uses beyond simple ferrying and transport.
The JHSV Ships
The JHSV Program
Supplements: From Leased to Bought
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2011 – 2012
FY 2009 – 2010
FY 2005 – 2008
Appendix A: The US Military’s HSV/TSV Experience
Additional Readings & Sources
JHSV and its Relatives
News & Views
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)