The Bollinger/Incat USA combination has hit another high note with the performance of its ship HSV-X1 - aka Joint Venture - at a recent major war game exercise off the U.S. west coast. According to the builders, the vessel played an integral part in the largest joint exercise ever undertaken by the U.S. military
- known as Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) - which involved more than 13,500 military personnel and hundreds of ships and aircraft throughout the U.S. The war games are a large-scale joint field exercise, utilizing U.S. Army, Navy, Marine, and Special Operations Command personnel.
The 313-ft. Joint Venture, on charter from Bollinger/Incat USA, is a high-speed troop and equipment transport which has multi-mission, multi-purpose capabilities. It is being tested by the military as a way to move large numbers of people and equipment swiftly into harbors that bigger, heavier ships can't reach. In one part of the exercise, the vessel transported a full complement of light armored vehicles and their troops from San Diego Naval Base to a temporary installation at Del Mar Boat Base, averaging a speed of 35 knots. Once arriving on location, the craft's cargo and personnel were offloaded in approximately three minutes - demonstrating the vessel's shallow draft capabilities and the ability to quickly offload personnel and equipment. The vessel has a top speed of 45.5 knots and a range of over 4,500 miles before refueling.
Marines earlier used the catamaran to drop Navy SEALs in for reconnaissance missions. In other portions of the exercise, the Navy practiced mine detection and other naval combat arts before turning the vessel over to the Army for more testing.
In this exercise, the Joint Venture had a cross-service crew of Marines, Navy and Army personnel who were impressed with its performance. "To get a ship of this size into this basin is a feat unto itself," said Cmdr. Dean Chase of the Navy Warfare Development Command in Newport, R.I. "The capability just doesn't exist in our inventory today. It (the technology) is very exciting." Ship captain, Navy Capt
. Phil Beierl, added "This ship is fast, light and maneuverable. It can go into places other ships simply can't get in to."
The catamaran vessel is the result of the strategic alliance between Bollinger Shipyards, a builder of a variety of high-speed patrol boats for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, and Incat of Australia, the builder of the world's fastest passenger-vehicle ferries. It also represents the desire within the Defense Department to keep up with the newest technology. Designed and built by Incat Tasmania, the HSV-X1 was converted from a standard passenger ferry to military multi-purpose vessel through six-weeks of technical and structural modifications at a cost of about $2.5 million dollars. The modifications include the additions of a helo-deck, large enough to accommodate large military helicopters, and a hydraulically controlled ramp for rapid loading and unloading of equipment and personnel as well as several logistical and technological modifications to accommodate military use. The HSV-X1, "Joint Venture" project was undertaken by Bollinger / Incat USA in response to the increasing demand by the U.S. Military for high-speed craft.