High Speed Logistics & Personnel Carrier Named for U.S. MSC

By George Backwell at September 23, 2011 23:21
Filed Under: Navy News

The first high speed fleet support vessel to be directly owned and operated by  U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) was christened last Saturday in the traditional manner and named USNS Spearhead at the Austal builder’s yard in Mobile, Alabama, according to MSC news release.

USNS Spearhead: Official US Government photgraph

The Navy evaluated the usefulness of commercial high-speed ferries for logistical and personnel deployment for some ten years with the chartered fast catamarans Westpac Express and HSV-Swift according to an NDIA article online  ‘Commercial Ferries Paving Way for Joint High Speed Vessel’ before deciding to place orders with Austal USA for five Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV’s) of this type (with an option for five more); a choice enthusiastically endorsed by people who had served aboard them on military and humanitarian missions.

An Austal High-speed Catamaran Ferry: Courtesy of Austal Inc. USA

Capabilites of the USNS Spearhead

The aluminum catamaran, 338 ft LOA, is designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in shallow waters (loaded draft 17.5 ft) making it ideal for transporting troops and equipment quickly.  Civilian Capt. Douglas D. Casavant, Jr., Spearhead's civil service master said:  "Flexibility may the best attribute of this ship, our 20,000-square-foot mission bay area can be reconfigured to quickly adapt to whatever mission we are tasked with, for instance carrying containerized portable hospitals to support disaster relief or transporting tanks and troops."

Spearhead is able to carry 600 short tons of military troops (sleeping accommodations for up to 146 personnel with airline-style seating for up to 312) vehicles, supplies and equipment over a 1,200 nm range at a load service speed of 35 kts (light ship speed is 43 kts). Flight decks can support both day and night helicopter operations.

Propulsion & Construction

The vessel is powered by four MTU Detroit Diesel 20V8000 M71L diesel engines each rated at 9.1 MW driving four Wärtsilä WLD 1400 SR waterjets via four ZF 60000NR2H reduction gears. MTU claim their 8000 series engine (as installed in the two presently laid up Hawaii Superferry catamarans) has the world’s highest power-to-weight ratio in its power range.

MTU series 8000 common rail main propulsion diesel engines are equipped with sequential turbo-charging, delivering fast acceleration and response, while the engine and gearbox operating parameters are constantly monitored by the manufacturer’s latest electronic engine management control system. MTU claim this propulsion system delivers superior fuel efficiency.

A special durable and anti-corrosive metal alloy, ‘marginalized’ aluminum, was used for the hull construction, featuring rounded bilge and bulbous bow hull forms  Construction was to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and the onboard systems comply with the commercial ABS steel vessel regulations.




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HAS Kumarasinghe |     10/10/2011 10:47:15 PM #

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