HSV Swift Shows Her Stuff

The US Navy continues to experiment with HSV 2 Swift, the Incat-built aluminium-hulled Wave Piercing Catamaran. High Speed Vessel Swift is the successor to HSV-X1 Joint Venture, now in full US Army service, and brings new transformational capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps team.

Swift is faster than most ships, with a top speed of almost 50 knots. The catamaran hulls draw only about 11 feet of water, making the ship ideal for missions in shallow coastal waters.

Swift slipped out of Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, United States, for a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean February 10. Aboard were about 30 commercial enterprise and command representatives who explained a wide array of new systems that are, or may be, installed aboard Swift. Systems range from combat vehicles, small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles for targeting and reconnaissance, to unmanned submersible vehicles for mine hunting.

The ship’s systems feature many automated controls, including a docking system that enables Swift to tie up without the aid of tugs in winds of less than 50 knots.

Swift crew members are impressed with the ship’s capabilities.

“I was in awe over all the technology,” said Interior Communications Technician 2nd Class (SW) Matthew Ferguson, Swift crew member. “I like the fact you don’t need to touch much in order for Swift to go, and that it doesn’t require a huge crew.”

“This was a culture shock when I came on board,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF) Michael Lackrey, Swift’s independent duty corpsman. “I was so used to watertight hatches and basic military things. I love it here, though. The crew size is very small, so it’s easy to get to know everyone. You also have to work out of rate, to know a little bit of something in case someone gets hurt or sick. You have to step in and take over.”

An aluminium, bead-blasted flight deck eliminates most of the non-skid paint products and recurring maintenance, and stainless steel tie-down fittings for aircraft are a first. Also, Swift is not painted the traditional haze grey, but she has been treated on the exterior with a blasting process that provides a haze grey appearance.

Swift deployed on its maiden voyage only 11 days after delivery August 15, and provided support in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Swift is providing a platform for the US Navy to explore concepts, capabilities and military utility associated with the Navy’s plans to build the Littoral Combat Ship. HSV is now testing modular technology, demonstrating endless possibilities for embarking payloads needed to accomplish missions for a variety of warfare areas. Swift fulfils the need for smaller, faster, reconfigurable, adaptable surface ships for the future Navy and provides the ability to fulfil a wide variety of missions anytime, anywhere.