The Navy's first joint high-speed vessel departed Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story today on its maiden deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) is expected to remain in U.S. 6th Fleet until May 2014 and sail to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility through the end of fiscal year 2014. While deployed, the ship will undergo planned experimentation and testing to determine the ship's capabilities.
"The JHSV ship class will play an important part in the future of our joint forces in terms of affordability, flexibility, speed and agility," said Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command. "Its performance to-date is solid and I think its first deployment will offer us a great opportunity to further demonstrate the important capabilities this new class brings to our fleet."
Spearhead is fast, flexible and maneuverable, ideally suited for rapid intra-theater transport. The ship supports diverse operations, including operational maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports and rapid transport as an alternative to airlift.
"I think the ship will do very well when it joins the fleet. It keeps expanding upon its own capabilities. It's every bit as flexible as expected, if not more," said Capt. Douglas Casavant, Spearhead's civil service master.
The 338-foot catamaran is equipped with a 20,000-square foot mission bay that can be quickly adapted to multiple uses. Spearhead and the other JHSVs in its class can move more than 600 tons of troops and equipment 1,200 nautical miles. The ship's flight deck can also support flight operations for a wide variety of aircraft, including a CH-53 Super Stallion.
A civil service mariner crew of 22 navigates, operates and maintains the vessel, which will also host a military detachment commanded by Navy Capt. Marc Lederer.
"Like any of our Navy's ships, one of Spearhead's real strengths is its crew," said Lederer. "This deployment represents an exciting new chapter in warfighter support, and we look forward to learning what Spearhead can do as the ship stretches its legs."