|Australian soldiers in the Gulf enjoy US hospitality on one of two high-speed US Army ships built in Australia.
The high-tech, high-speed Incat catamaran built by Incat in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and operated by the US Army, Spearhead TSV-1X ACTD assisted members of the Australian Army from the 10th Force Support Battalion, 35th Water Transport Squadron at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait.
The Australians were aboard two LCM-8’s (Landing Craft Mechanised) and over a two week period enjoyed the hospitality of Spearhead’s crew, taking advantage of hot showers, laundry facilities and dining with the Americans on the Theatre Support Vessel Spearhead.
The Australian soldiers were able to see the high speed vessel at work when joining an underway maintenance run on the US Army ship.
“Awesome” is the word used by CW3 Patrick S. May, Commander of USAV Spearhead when describing the US Army’s Theater Support Vessel sustaining 48.7 knots running down the coast of Qatar during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In September 2002, when Incat Australia sold a second ship for service with the US Army, expectations were high. The Army’s first Theater Support vessel, TSV-1X USAV Spearhead soon went into service on missions to maximise its speed and flexibility, being required for both sustainment deliveries and the movement of Army prepositioned stocks, and troop units.
Laid down at Incat’s Hobart, Tasmania shipyard as a commercial passenger and vehicle ferry the ship was modified to meet US Army requirements and was promptly delivered to the joint venture company, Bollinger / Incat USA, for handover to the military in an impressive 53 days after contract award.
Leaving Hobart soon after handover TSV-1X Spearhead headed directly to the Persian Gulf to be part of the major military build-up in the region. En route, her crew began training, conducted extensive sea trials and outfitted Spearhead for logistics operations worldwide.
Both Spearhead and the earlier Incat-built 96 metre craft HSV-X1 Joint Venture are deployed within the Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
CW3 Patrick S. May, Commander USAV Spearhead comments “The reception of the TSV is amazing, and all eyes are on the Spearhead in every port. We’ve given hundreds of tours to everyone from the casual observer to Generals.”
“We have sailed a total of 29,305 nautical miles and our operations to date have covered most of the western part of the CENTCOM Theater from Jordan to Kuwait. We have carried 751 troops and hauled over 1320 pieces of military cargo, just about everything in the inventory except for tracks, all of which were already on the battlefield when we arrived.”
Speaking of his role as Commander of such a high profile craft as Spearhead CW3 May says, “I can tell you that Incat has hit a home run with this ship! What an awesome piece of equipment. We have had minimal problems during a higher than designed or intended operation tempo.”
“The vessel is near perfect for the intended US Army mission, and in 18 plus years of driving and working about boats, I’ve never had so much fun.”
“We hit and sustained 48.7 knots running down the coast of Qatar a few weeks ago, unbelievable” he says.
While HSV-X1 Joint Venture is shared by components of the Joint Forces Command, TSV-1X Spearhead is a pure Army craft. The Army has used performance and engineering data gathered through their involvement with Joint Ventureand used this to fine-tune the requirements for Spearhead.
In the meantime, Incat is currently constructing another 98 metre craft, HSV 2 Swift, for the US Navy and on target for a mid 2003 delivery.
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Definitions & Abbreviations:
HSV – High Speed Vessel
X-1 – Experimental One
TSV – Theater Support Vessel
ACTD – Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator