Joint Venture Returns to Incat in Hobart

The Incat Tasmania built ship HSV-X1 Joint Venture, operated by the US Army,  will arrive in Hobart tomorrow afternoon for her annual dry docking and scheduled maintenance at Incat in Hobart. Under the command of US Army officer Charles West CW4 the ship will berth at PrincesWharf just after 2pm and remain at the city wharf for a few days to unload stores and equipment before transit to the Incat shipyard at Prince of Wales Bay. 

Joint Venture last visited Hobart late in 2003 when she returned to the shipyard direct from an extended deployment in the Persian Gulf in US Navy support of allied nations.  During her three years in service with the US military the ship has circumnavigated the world with operations and exercises in the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Joint Venture excelled during her deployment in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Just hours after Operation Iraqi Freedom began, Joint Venture sped into the shallow Persian Gulf waters near the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, acting as an afloat forward staging base for Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams and Navy SEAL commandos.

Hobart has become a favourite destination for the Joint Venture crew whose extended stay will represent a significant income earner for Tasmania’s hospitality industry in addition to the refit and maintenance works being undertaken by Incat.   The ship is expected to return to service early next year when the maintenance and modifications are complete.

The Background

In 2001, joint forces from the US Military awarded to Bollinger / Incat USA the charter for a High Speed Craft to be used as an evaluation platform for various trials and demonstrations for the different forces involved.  A rapid transformation of a commercial fast ferry into a leading edge military fast ship got underway.

Built as Incat hull 050 in 1998 the ship’s first deployment was in operation on the route between the North and SouthIslands of New Zealand.  In 2001 Incat Tasmania transformed the 96 metre commercial fast ferry into a leading edge military ship, removing a large section of the original passenger accommodation area to make way for the installation of a helo-deck capable of accommodating large military helicopters. Internal fit-out, and other modifications to suit troop transportation were also made.

Renamed HSV-X1 Joint Venture (Incat hull 050) left Tasmanian waters on the evening of September 11, 2001 (AEST) only hours before the towers of the WorldTradeCenter fell in New York. The ship which had been chartered for experimental purposes did participate in a number of exercises and experiments but far more quickly than originally envisaged went into service in the War against Terrorism.

The 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran HSV-X1 Joint Venture set the benchmark for future multi-mission capabilities that high speed sea transport offers world militaries, coast guards and humanitarian aid organisations.  Her high operational speed, long-range deployment capabilities, combined with a high deadweight capacity, shallow draft and re-configuration flexibility expands the military’s capability.

Joint Venture
is one of four Incat Wave Piercing Catamarans to enter Military service. In 1999 the Royal Australian Navy operated the 86 metre WavePiercingCatamaranHMASJervisBay during the East Timor crisis. In November 2002, the US Army took acceptance of its first Theater Support Vessel the 98 metre TSV-1X Spearhead, and on August 12 2003 the US Navy took over control of HSV 2 Swift.

In March this year (2004)  two US Army Blackhawk helicopters landed on HSV – X1 Joint Venture in Korean waters, creating history as the first landings on board a US Army vessel since the Vietnam War.  Although historically significant for the US Army, the landing of helicopters on board HSV – X1 Joint Venture had been carried out on numerous occasions by the US Navy, when the Navy operated the vessel.