The USA’s Spearhead-class, expeditionary fast transports
February 6/20: Post Shakedown Availability Colonna Shipyards won a $10.5 million deal for a 75-day shipyard availability for the regular post shakedown availability of USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10). The Burlington is the tenth Spearhead Class expeditionary fast transport. EPFs are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. Each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. The ships are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank. Work under the new contract will include Pump Room 1 and 2 renewal, tow modifications, Pump Room 7 and 8, ladder install, bilge preservation main engine rooms, line shaft bearing annual maintenance, freeze protection pipe heat trace instillation, freeze protection mission bay installation, perform annual stern ramp maintenance, install fuel sensors in diesel fuel service system, modify diesel fuel bunking piping, stern ramp upgrades, fire station isolation valves, adaptive force package temporary sensitive compartment information facility installations and temporary sensitive compartment information facility adaptive force package heating ventilation and an air condition upgrade install. Estimated completion date is May 15, 2020,
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
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