The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) this week conducted high-speed trials off the coast of Virginia, reaching speeds of approximately 40 knots.
The 338-foot-long aluminum catamarans are designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in shallow waters, making them ideal for transporting troops and equipment quickly within a theater of operations.
The vessels are capable of transporting 600 short tons of military troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and can operate in shallow-draft, austere ports and waterways. Each JHSV also has sleeping accommodations for up to 146 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312.
The JHSVs’ aviation flight decks can support day and night flight operations. Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, was aboard for the trial this week and was on the first helicopter to make a regularly scheduled passenger landing on the ship since passing its initial certification.
Military Sealift Command will own and operate Spearhead and the other JHSVs that are under contract to be built for the Navy. Spearhead will be crewed by 22 civil service mariners working for MSC who will operate, navigate and maintain the ship.
The USNS Spearhead was christened September 17, 2011 during a ceremony at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, where the vessels are being built. The U.S. Navy has so far exercised options 10 ships of the JHSV class.