The Navy recently accepted delivery of the fourth Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), the future USNS Fall River, from Austal USA. This ceremony was marked on September 15th, following completion of the builder’s and acceptance trials in July.
The ship has a crew of 22 civilian mariners responsible for operating and navigating the vessel, which will be part of the Military Sealift Command. A military detachment will embark for deployments. The JHSV is a versatile platform designed to be used for a multitude of different missions. The 338-foot catamaran is equipped with a 20,000-square foot mission bay that can be quickly adapted based on intended use. The ship’s flight deck can support flight operations for a wide variety of aircraft, including a CH-53 Super Stallion.
Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Manager Captain Henry Stevens noted, “The speed, cargo capacity and all around flexibility are game-changing for military, relief, and humanitarian operations” in a Navy press release. He further remarked, “the ship’s flight deck, ramp and shallow draft provide options for employment across a wide spectrum of operations.”
Designed as a ten ship class, all under contract with Austal USA, the JHSV will be an important component of U.S. Navy operations. The first JHSV, USNS Spearhead, commenced her maiden deployment in January, which included operations in the European, African and Southern Command areas of operation.
USNS Choctaw County (JHSV-2) recently took part in Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Spectacular, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Battle of Baltimore, along with more than thirty U.S. and international ships. The ship was visited by a range of tourists, family members, international guests, and dignitaries. Secretary Mabus remarked on the importance of the JHSV class, noting “it’s one of these game-changing technologies and it’s going to be important for a long time for the Navy.”