Navy Considers JHSV for Special Operations Missions

Navy Considers JHSV for Special Operations Missions

The ongoing deployment of the Navy’s first Joint High Speed Vessel, or JHSV, is leading the service to think more broadly about the ship’s mission set and expand it from a purely transport vessel to one that can conduct special operations and humanitarian assistance missions, Navy leaders said.

The Navy’s first of ten planned JHSV’s, the USNS Spearhead, was intended to quickly ferry large amounts of troops, personnel and up to 600 tons of equipment across long distances at speeds up to 35 knots. Traveling at 35 knots, the JHSV can travel up to 1,200 miles and reach much greater distances at slower speeds.

“JHSV was designed with a narrow focus to move personnel/equipment from A to B as quickly as possible. It was not built with the idea of using it for missions such as special operations and humanitarian assistance. These missions greatly open the aperture and expand the potential for the JHSV,” a Navy official said.

Navy leaders certainly don’t expect the JHSV to fulfill combat missions. It doesn’t have the weapons or defensive systems to meet those sorts of mission sets. But what Navy officials can envision is a JHSV quickly re-supplying a special operations team without requiring the footprint that is needed by other transport ships.

The Spearhead recently participated in exercises off the coast of West Africa in the 6th fleet’s area of responsibility. As many as 12 West African and European partner nations took part in Exercise Saharan Express which included a series of communications and ship-tracking exercises designed to mirror real-world maritime scenarios.

The ship was initially designed purely for high-speed intra-theater transport, said Capt. Henry Stevens, the Navy’s strategy and theater sealift program manager.

“Rapid transport capability is what the ship was bought for. The ship has a large, 20,000 square-foot mission bay for vehicles tanks, trucks, HMMWVs, ambulances and bulldozers — and then passenger seating for 312, a company sized group of Army or Marine Corps folks,” he said.

The 103-foot long, 2,500 ton ship has a crew of 22 and is configured with a helicopter landing area designed for rotorcraft up to an H-53, Stevens explained.  The ship reaches it speed by using water jets for propulsion.

The ship has an adjustable ramp on the back to allow for rapid on and off-loading exercises as well as a large crane able to move up to 40,000 pounds of cargo from the ship to a pier, Stevens said.

“We spent a lot of time making sure vehicles can get on and off quickly,” he added.

The catamaran ship structure is built with only a 13-foot draft, meaning it can access shallow water ports and reach areas other ships and platforms cannot, said Stevens.

“A lot of places around the world are shallower – that was taken into account in developing the requirements,” he said.

Navy officials explain that conversations about the mission possibilities for the JHSV are expanding.

“It is designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways and it can support a wide range of operations to include maneuver and sustainment, humanitarian assistance, special operations support, logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport.”

Although the JHSV is configured with a certified flight deck for military helicopters, self-defense weapons such as four .50-cal. guns and communications technology, it is largely a commercial development item, Stevens said.

“We leveraged existing proven technology and had a streamlined acquisition approach,” he added.

Built out of aluminum for high-speed operations, the ship is constructed to commercial, non-combatant survivability standards.

All ten JHSVs are now under contract with Austal USA, Mobile, Ala., in a ten-ship, $1.6 billion contract. Each ship costs just under $180 million, Steven said.

The third JHSV, the USNS Millinocket, was delivered to the Navy earlier this month on the heels of JHSV 2, the USNS Choctaw County, which was delivered in June of last year.  JHSV 4 was christened in January and is currently under construction and preparing for extensive sea trials.

JHSV 5 has begun final assembly and construction of JHSV 6 commenced in January.

“JHSV 7, 8, 9 and 10 are at various stages of material procurement and planning. Ships are delivering every six months,” Stevens said.

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Ok I can see this as another LST for some situations. I hope the brass wont make into another LCS light again. Overall this maybe good for none combat operations.

Mission bay and helicopter deck? Check. It achieves about a third of what LCS can do. Sure it can’t mount modules and isn’t a flagshower, but FSF-1 had modules and didn’t get anywhere.

Austal is getting JHSV procured as insurance, in case LCS goes into the tank.

Too bad they didn’t cant the sides inboard like this: http://​upload​.wikimedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​p​e​d​i​a​/​c​o​m​m​o​n​s​/​a/a.… Hmm, I wonder if fast and stealthy could have any applications in modern warfare?

Rest in peace, sea shadow. Though I feel that a Sea Shadow with VLS (e.g. Tomorrow Never Dies) would’ve been a sight for the Soviets.

It must have really got under the Navy’s skin when the Skunkworks designed the Sea Shadow because no matter how good it was, they are bound and determined never to repeat it.

Been wondering when they’d finally make a decision on this experiment.

They’ve been testing for over a decade.

Again with my amphib LCS idea, augment the ARGs with these.

Wiki says it can do 43 knots. I suppose running 4 high speed diesels is much more efficient than running two massive gas turbines (aka the LCS method) to reach the same speed.

Do we have any engineers here to confirm this theory?

The problem with all these platforms is competition amonst themselves. What’s the different between bringing in a big amphib with a full range of capabilities and then letting their smallboys (LCAC and LCV) make the last mile to shore? The JHSV is also a waste, just like the LCS. Compounding bad decisions is why the Navy is short real combat ships.

That was an idea floated by Lockheed to the navy — who didn’t like the idea of puny little stealth ships defending the mighty aircraft carriers (lamentably, its true). Also, no one gets made admiral captaining anything that small thats designed to operate along.

This whole thing was documented in Ben Rich’s biography (he was behind the first Stealth fighter, at Lockheed).

LCAC is a hovercraft designed to bring troops and equipment directly ashore — this (JHSV) is fundamentally an inter-theater ferry — which is exactly what it is/was designed to be.

LCS is best described as a great concept, that should’ve been stillborn. Unfortunately, it survived as a corporate welfare program.

Manned by civilians and no guns. Sounds like a sitting duck.

but the mighty LCS will provide escort duties!!!!!! That’ll make them feel safer

Pretty much, “PolicyWonk” said it when he stated that you can’t make admiral commanding small craft or even a squadron of small craft, no matter how deadly they might be. The PHM program of the 1970’s was a perfect example. In the first year of ops out of San Diego, the higher command pretty much let us operate independently as they had no idea how to utilize the craft. We were deadly in war games too but that never sank in with the upper command levels. The Pegasus class were hideously expensive to run as well but for their era, unsurpassed as a small naval combatant. Then too, the theater where these kind of ships perform best tends to be choke points like the Mediterranean Sea and not so much in the open reaches of the ocean where our primarily blue water navy operates. That didn’t add to their appeal at the higher command levels either.

Might even make a good mine detector/mine sweeper.

So make it bigger. All they’d have to do to the JHSV to make it stealthy is cant the sides and make the top and back pointy. It’s a big deal now, but not so much when it was being designed.

So we spent 170 million created a new class of craft called Sea Shadow to be swept under the rug by command egos.…then sell it at auction to Bay Ship & Yacht Co. for a whopping $2.5 million only to be taken apart.…Impressive

JHSV is already being plugged as an experimental platform for the first afloat EM railgun. That’s a bit of a dissonance from the constantly stated “this isn’t a warship” line.

That being said, JHSV still has a bit of a ways to go. Read the 2013 DOT&E report and the manufacturer’s stated operational range can’t be met just yet. For short, fast hops, this is the ferry to have, but for longer range theater size moves, MSC has better options, albeit slower and less sexier.

I meant “front and back pointy”. They top can be flat, have a heliport, whatever.

The big advantage to the gas turbine is reliability, not specific horsepower. Reciprocating parts tend to wear out faster than rotating parts, and in general there are more of them.

Point is, if the Navy wants real combat power and support forces, then pay for what works, like LHD, LSD, LPD, and not some high school science experiment (LCS, JHSV). Congress will back that plan, even if it costs more.

JHSV or the Spearhead Class so far has been successful. Its a civilian design modified for military work to goto a handy commercial dock. That’s fine, but delivering special ops is different can of worms. This thing suppose to arrivel i would have assume in a quick (not stealthy) location and quickly disembark its payload of troops, perhaps like the way Cyclone ships were suppose to. Depending on the combat environment, the ship would need an escort or cover while it tries to get out of harms way.

I had though when the LCS was going be used for this sort of business in the first place. I guess there isn’t enough room to move enough troops. It would to me seem to fit the boat’s limited firepower to be at least able handle insertions using its RAM launcher hold off incoming anti-ship missiles. Reminds me how they converted destroyers during world war ii for purpose of being a hybrid amphibious landing ship.

Having been on the Spearhead and LCS, I can say the flight deck is big and can take H-53. JHSV do not have hangars. But do have a huge payload as compared to LCS. And the mission deck can take some of the mission modules (in fact fitted for six). The superstructure can be modified for sensors. BTW there are four weapons station bigger enough for Mk 38.
A JHSV is being considered for weapons testbed of Rail Gun.
Two separate programs. I am betting Austal will get more LCS

Comparisons to FSF-1 and Sea Shadow suffer since those were one-offs ONR R&D projects, and there will be TEN JHSV.

think of JHSV as modern version of APD but unarmed~

Totaly wrong. JSHV is a inter-theater transport NOT a big landing craft. JHSV can take about a battalion of troops way up the shoreline aka littoral and support another landing.
go back and read WW2 naval history in Pacific. Troop transports were integral part of ATF.
It is purely a bureaucratic decision not to armed ships not in commission.

You can’t make admiral commanding small craft like PHMs?

Better not tell the many Naval Offiers who moved from PHM command upward and eventualy to Flag rank.
Some examples are RADM Phil Greene and VADM Bill Landay

The truly amazing part was how the Sea Shadow had absolutely no design influence on any follow on programs in terms of shaping. The Navy would rather use unstable designs like the DDG-1000 than use anything remotely resembling the Shadow. Any standard V hull is going to form corner reflector geometries with the ocean swells and reflect back radar. Plus most of the supposedly stealthy designs the Navy has used have a myriad of edges that all cause some degree of return. So far stealth has only been used to maximize the amount of money going to defense contractors and not as a significant factor in ship design.

Even NR-1 had its share of admirals.

Can a JHSV directly land on a beach…?

It’ll probably carry the wet delivery vehicle for dropping SEALs off.



Marines conduct Crisis Response exercise from USNS Spearhead

MONROVIA, Liberia –

A contingent of Marines from Marine Forces Europe and Africa launched from the joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) as part of a crisis response exercise in the American Embassy in Liberia to enhance U.S.-Liberian capabilities to protect U.S. diplomatic missions in the area, March 7.

The exercise prepared response forces for potential situations of regional instability in the area and strengthened interagency cooperation between the U.S. and the Liberian government and military.

“We used this new platform, the JHSV 1, to make a small craft insertion into Liberia and then moved to the embassy and worked with some of the Department of State personnel there and [Marine Security Guards] and rehearsed some scenarios,” said 2nd Lt. John Porter, a theater security cooperation team leader.

The team of Marines launched from the Spearhead aboard a seven-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB).


At very low speeds there is a cube relationship between propulsive power and speed, 8x the power for 2x speed. That worsens and understates power requirement as speed increases and a displacement hull tries to catch and climb its bow wave. For purposes of ballpark guestimates and gross simplification ignore the bow wave, and also pretend fuel consumption is in proportion to developed power, so you have ~8x fuel consumption rate for 2x speed.

Since 2x speed is 2x the rate of distance traveled, ~2x speed results in less than 1/4x range, or ~1/2x speed results in more than 4x range, an inverse square relationship useful for guestimations. Similarly, this holds more true for light aircraft in level flight, a vessel that is not trying to climb a bow wave.

One point to be taken from this is that a small reduction away from a high speed of travel results in a big increase in range, with all else held constant. Another point is that a small decrease in speed results in a big decrease in the propulsive power needed for that speed.

JHSV has the range, but achieves that range at a slightly lower speed, which is still pretty damned fast.

The idea here would be to arrive at some point off the target coast and let the SOF team(s) swim or fly the rest of the way in on their own. The ship has to use any kind of firepower the mission is probably a failure anyway.

Think of a conflict between North and South Korea. The closest reinforcements are in Okinawa and there are three options to transport them to the peninsula. 1: Fly them. Fast… but they dont arrive with their equipment. 2: Use a typical transport ship. Slow, and the equipment may arrive jumbled during loading or unloading. Also the transport typically needs a large, deep draft port. 3: JHSV. Its fast, can use shallow ports, the troops can roll on and off their equipment and are ready to fight.

“And the mission deck can take some of the mission modules (in fact fitted for six)”

Interesting. Haven’t seen anything about carrying and using mission modules on PEOS.

But it can travel at 35 knots for 1,200nm carrying 600 tons of cargo and is even capable of offloading a combat ready Stryker brigade in half an hour.

Actually the USMC ran the numbers and found that using the MV Westpac Express they could transport an IBCT 400nm with all the equipment while it would take a C-17 245 sorties.

If fitted with the equipment yeah, Since it is Aluminum they dont attract the magnetic mines =)


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