On Saturday, the US Navy will christen the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) Choctaw County, named for three U.S. counties, located in Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma, which share the county’s name, during a ceremony in Mobile, Alabama.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Women from Ackerman High School’s class of 1966, 29 in all, will serve as the ship’s sponsors, with Theresa Pitts designated as the lead sponsor for the classmates. Ackerman High School is located in Choctaw County’s town of Ackerman, Miss.
“I chose to name this joint high speed vessel after Choctaw County where core American values of hard work, putting family first, and giving back to your community are on constant display,” said Mabus. “I could think of no better representatives of these values than the women of Ackerman High School’s class of 1966. Each represents the best of the American spirit and our enduring American values. I am honored they accepted the invitation to serve as sponsors for this fine ship.”
The 338 foot-long aluminum catamaran is being constructed by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. Choctaw County and the eight other JHSVs under contract enable fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles, supplies and equipment. Military commanders will have the flexibility to use the JHSV in a variety of roles, including supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.
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They can transport 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility. The JHSVs also have an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations. JHSVs have berthing space for up to 146 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312.
Upon delivery to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC), Choctaw County will be designated as a U.S. Naval Ship and will have a core crew of 21 civilian mariners who will operate and navigate the ship. The first four JHSVs, including Choctaw County, will be crewed by federally employed civil service mariners. The remaining six will be crewed by civilian contract mariners working for private shipping companies under contract to MSC. Military mission personnel will embark, as required, by the mission sponsors.