Corps Plans to Test Faster Deployment Capabilities

The use of Bollinger / Incat USA chartered 96 metre Joint Venture HSV-X1 by the United States military is an indicator of how the concept of high speed craft as a multi mission platform is rapidly being embraced by military forces around the world.

In a recent article, reproduced below, Sergeant John Sayas Combat Correspondent, reports on the continuing mission to explore the capabilities of HSV-X1

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The High Speed Vessel Joint Venture will be under the watchful eye of Marine Corps operational commanders as they explore its potential operational and tactical roles for the first time during exercise Battle Griffin-02 in Norway March 7-14. The vessel and its crew, based at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Va., left port Feb. 5 for Blount Island, Fla., and Morehead City, N.C., and Rota, Spain, to embark troops and equipment before traveling to Norway.

Joint Venture
, also known as HSV-X1, is a 313-foot, wave-piercing catamaran built by Incat Australia Pty, Ltd., the world’s leading producer in high-speed passenger and vehicular vessels. Three of Incat’s ships, which have the capability of traveling in excess of 40 knots in heavy seas and relatively shallow waters, have held records for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

It is the Navy’s first high-speed vessel and has been operated and tested jointly by a Navy and Army crew since March 2001. The Navy modified the leased Australian commercial vessel, once used as a high-speed passenger and automobile ferry, with an advanced hull and propulsion technology capable of carrying about 350 fully-equipped Marines and more than 450-tons of light-armored personnel carriers, trucks and equipment. In addition to its high speed, the HSV-X1 has roll-on/off ramp allowing quick and efficient load outs and equipping. It also has a flight deck that would be used as a sea-based medical platform and for other taskings received from the Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander, according to Maj. Lawrence Ryder, JHSV project manager.

Another feature the HSV has is a shallow draft along with a high-powered water jet propulsion system, which can give the HSV more flexibility and allow better maneuverability in ports larger ships do not have access to, said Ryder. This gives commanders more ground for unloading troops and equipment around the world. “With this kind of capability, we can run in and get out quickly,” said Ryder.

Battle Griffin will give the Marine Corps a chance to explore for the first time, the employment of the HSV-X1 in an inter-theater deployment role and utility of the HSV technology during expeditionary maneuver warfare.

Commanders will also assess how the vessel will impact operations with personnel and equipment during support deployment, employment, sustainment and redeployment of a MAGTF in a cold environment. The exercise will provide valuable insight and feedback on the capabilities and any additional requirements for potential procurement and development of the vessel in the future.

HSV-X1 will be used as a platform to test various concepts, such as its ability to move equipment via coastal routes from an arrival port in Southern Norway to the exercise in northern Norway, and the movement of equipment and Marines within the exercise area. Some of the HSV-X1’s other operational roles during Battle Griffin include replenishment and re-supply at sea; special insertion and redeployment operations; reconnaissance; command and control; anti-submarine and mine warfare; humanitarian assistance and evacuation; surface warfare and force protection.

Ryder said Marine Corps commanders gained some interest in the vessel after seeing it used for logistical operations between Australia and East Timor during a two-year charter to the Royal Australian Navy. The HMAS Jervis Bay quickly transported large numbers of troops and equipment as part of the United Nations Transitional Administration during the East Timor crisis in 107 trips covering over 100,000 nautical miles. It carried over 20,000 passengers, 430 military vehicles and shipped over 5,600 tons of equipment traveling at an average of 43 knots fully loaded. It traveled 430 nautical miles between Darwin, Australia and Dili, East Timor in under 11 hours.