“Awesome” Spearhead Meets Army’s Needs

TSV-1X Spearhead, the US Army’s Incat-built 98 metre Theatre Support Vessel has returned to her Hobart birthplace for a scheduled and well-earned annual overhaul.

Since leaving Hobart in December 2002 Spearhead, operated by the 469th Transportation Detachment, has been in continuous service in the Persian Gulf, mainly supporting coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

She has logged more than 50,000 nautical miles (57,500 statute miles) in the past year prior to departing the Gulf earlier this month on her return voyage to Tasmanian shores, arriving in Hobart on November 20.

’s missions have included hauling two Patriot missile battalions from Qatar to the Kuwaiti naval base. She also moved the 101st Airborne Division military police from Djibouti to Kuwait, making the 2,000-mile trip in two and a half days. The craft’s predecessor, the LSV, would have needed 10 days to make the voyage and would only have accommodated the equipment, requiring the troops to fly separately.

Speaking of Spearhead’s performance the vessel’s Commanding Officer, CW3 Patrick S. May, Commander 469th Transportation Detachment, said even he had been surprised by the craft’s capabilities.

“We were new to Spearhead and didn’t know what its capabilities were. We pushed it to the absolute max, sometimes over the edge, and she never let us down” he said.

“Our main function was what we call intact unit moves, where we pick up a company and all of their equipment and move them simultaneously from one location in theatre to another,” Cdr May said.

“Before Spearhead, a commander would have to fly his troops from one location to another and then have his equipment moved by different means. Traditionally, our fleet moves at 10 knots: we move fully loaded at 40-plus knots” he said.

“Everyone we supported fell in love with the asset and its capability. As far as the future, we are standing on it. This is the future.” Cdr May said.

During her stay at the Incat yard Spearhead will be fitted with further specialised equipment, in addition to usual maintenance and survey work.