Millennium Challenge 2002 Success

Joint Venture HSV-X1, the Incat-built 96 metre fast catamaran currently serving with the US Military on charter from Bollinger / Incat USA, has excelled in various exercises during Millennium Challenge 2002 off the coast of San Diego, United States.

Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02), the United States’ premier joint integrating event, brought together both live field exercises and computer simulation and was sponsored by US Joint Forces Command. Mandated by US Congress, MC02 explored critical war fighting challenges at the operational level of war that may confront US military forces in the future.

The further experimentation with Joint Venture HSV-X1 was a highlight of the exercise, during which the potential impact of fast, shallow draft, open architecture vessels with large carrying capacity on mine warfare, special operations, ship-to-objective manoeuvre and medical and non-combatant support operations was evident to all observers.

Just one of a multitude of exercises performed by Joint Venture was to provide a link between the port of San Diego and the undeveloped boat basin of Del Mar, two hours to the north by fast craft. The basin has no facilities for the landing of persons and wheeled vehicles and served to evaluate the exceptional manoeuverability of the ship.

Engineers installed a causeway pier made up of 10 barges. The entrance and approach to the causeway was tight – a winding 46 metre wide and 5.48 metre deep channel ensured Joint Venture, at 26 metres beam, 3.65m draught, and 96 metres length, was by far the largest ship to ever enter the basin.

Under a security blanket of heavy air cover, Joint Venture, designed as a stern loading fast ferry, moved astern down the narrow channel with ease, docked to the pontoons and discharged a variety of USMC combat and logistics vehicles. A return load of “evacuees” was embarked, and with multiple helicopter cover for protection, Joint Venture sailed on the return leg to San Diego. Time elapsed between entering channel, mooring to the causeway and departing to sea again was just one hour.

Commander Dean Chase of the Navy Warfare Development Command commented, “To get a ship of this size into this basin is a feat unto itself. The capability just doesn’t exist in our inventory today. It (the technology) is very exciting.”

Joint Venture
’s Commanding Officer, Navy Captain Phil Beierl, added, “This ship is fast, light and manoeuverable. It can go into places other ships simply can’t get in to.”

At Port Hueneme, California on August 9, the Joint Venture embarked Stryker Company. Some 28 wheeled units were loaded, including fourteen Strykers – the US Army’s Interim Brigade Combat Team’s highly deployable-wheeled armoured vehicle that combines firepower, battlefield mobility, survivability and versatility, with reduced logistics requirements. In addition, some eighty passengers including members of the infantry company and the battalion staff were also embarked. Loading of the company was completed in an impressive 35 minutes – a time which compares favorably with the (approx.) 22 minutes per Stryker platform it took to load on a conventional ship on a previous occasion.

During her involvement at San Diego Joint Venture HSV-X1 also played host to visits by senior US military officers and US Congressional visitors.

Before the completion of MC02 the Administrative Control baton was once again passed by the US Navy to the US Army for Joint Venture’s next stage in the HSV evaluation process.

Editors note: The US Military designation HSV-X1 is High Speed Vessel Experimental One.