JUNE 6, 2013 — Austal USA's Mobile, Alabama, shipyard yesterday successfully completed the launch process of the third Joint High Speed Vessel, the recently christened USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3). This 103-meter high-speed catamaran is the U.S. Department of Defense's next generation multi-use platform. It is part of a 10-ship program, the funds for all of — potentially totaling over $1.6 billion — have been appropriated.
"Once again we demonstrate forward progress in the JHSV program through the accomplishment of another milestone," said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle"With JHSV 1 doing well on the East Coast, JHSV 2 recently completing Acceptance Trials and handed over to the Navy this morning, the keel laying of JSHV 4 at the end of May, and now the launch of JHSV 3, the JHSV program is maturing well. The men and women who make up Austal's JHSV team should be proud of their efforts and the role they are playing in constructing these incredible ships."
The launch of USNS Millinocket was conducted in a multi-step process that involved using Berard Transportation's self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) to lift the entire 1,600-metric-ton ship almost three feet in the air and moving the JHSV approximately 400 feet onto a moored deck barge adjacent to the assembly bay. The deck barge with USNS Millinocket onboard was then towed a half mile down river to BAE Systems' Southeast Shipyard. The vessel was transferred to the Drydock Alabama, BAE's floating dry dock. The floating dry dock was submerged and USNS Millinocket entered the water for the first time. USNS Millinocket was taken from the drydock and towed back up river to Austal USA's facility, where it will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the Navy later this year.
The JHSV is a relatively new asset that will be an important Navy connector. In peacetime, JHSVs will be operating forward supporting Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and riverine forces, theater cooperating missions, Seabees, Marine Corps and Army transportation. Each JHSV also supports helicopter operations and has a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter which enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries. A shallow draft (under 4 meters) will further enhance theater port access.
USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) was delivered in December 2012 and is currently stationed up in Norfolk, Va. USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) has officially completed acceptance trials and has been delivered to the Navy. Austal recently celebrated a keel laying ceremony for Fall River (JHSV 4) and construction has also begun on Trenton (JHSV 5).
Austal USA is also building the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Coronado (LCS 4), the second LCS built by Austal USA for General Dynamics, is currently progressing through shipbuilder's trials. With Austal USA as Prime, six of the 10-ship block buy awarded in December 2010 are funded per the contract with three under construction at this time.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. For the JHSV program, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the navigation and communication systems, C4I and aviation systems. As the Independence-variant LCS ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship's electronic systems.