The ship HSV-X1, better known as the "Joint Venture", played an integral part in the largest joint exercise ever undertaken by the US military, involving more than 13,500 military personnel and hundreds of ships and aircraft throughout the United States. The war games, known as Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02), are a congressionally mandated, Secretary of Defense directed, large-scale joint field exercise, utilizing United States Army
, Navy, Marine, and Special Operations Command personnel.The exercise began on July 24, and ran until August 15.
The 313-ft. "Joint Venture", on charter to the US Government 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 4500 miles before refueling.
Marines earlier used the catamaran to drop Navy SEALs in for reconnaissance missions. In other portions of the exercise, the Navy practice 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 US 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 US Military for high-speed craft.