Less than one year after beginning fabrication of Spearhead (JHSV 1), Austal has commenced construction on Vigilant (JHSV 2), the second of up to 10 103-metre Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs).

On July 22 2010, the official Keel Laying Ceremony was held at Austal’s shipyard for Spearhead (JHSV 1) which is on schedule for launch in June 2011 and delivery in December 2011.

Austal was selected as prime contractor in November 2008 to design and build the first JHSV, with options for nine additional vessels expected to be exercised between FY09 and FY13.

Since then, Austal has received construction contracts for JHSV 1, JHSV 2, and JHSV 3 and Long Lead Time Material contracts for JHSV 4 and JHSV 5.

As the US Department of Defense’s next-generation multi-use platform, the 103-metre JHSV will provide rapid intra-theatre deployment/transportation of personnel, equipment and supplies.

The vessel will support military logistics, sustainment and humanitarian relief operations and will be capable of speeds up to 43 knots.

“The start of JHSV 2 represents the first Navy/MSC ship and the start of serial production,” US Navy Program Manager Captain George Sutton said.

“Serial production is the key to program stability, affordability and efficiency for the shipbuilder and the taxpayer.”

Spearhead is the first Austal design to be constructed using the new procedures and processes developed in conjunction with Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF).

The MMF provides Austal with assembly line efficiency, which should result in significant cost savings and reduced lead times.

Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Rella said that since the beginning of 2010, Austal had added over 800 employees to its staff of shipbuilding professionals.

The Austal JHSV will transport medium-size operational units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to provide troop transport for an infantry battalion, allowing units to transit long distances while maintaining unit integrity.

The vessel also supports helicopter operations and has a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter which enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries.

A shallow draft (under four metres) will further enhance theatre port access.

The Austal JHSV team includes platform systems engineering agent General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems which is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s mission systems, including internal and external communications, electronic navigation, and aviation and armament systems.

Austal USA is also currently building a second Independence-class 127-metre Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) for the US Navy, Coronado (LCS 4).

USS Independence (LCS 2) is currently being put through trials by her crew after the US Navy officially took delivery in December 2009 and she was commissioned earlier this year in January 2010.

As prime contractor, Austal is in the process of completing final proposal revisions for the next LCS 10-ship contract which should be competitively awarded by the US Navy before the end of the year.

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