Austal sets keel of US Navy’s JHSV 3

Three Joint High Speed Ves­sels (JHSV) cur­rent­ly under con­struc­tion
On May 3, 2012, Austal held a keel-lay­ing cer­e­mo­ny for the third Joint High Speed Ves­sel (JHSV), one of nine Austal-designed 103-metre US Navy Joint High Speed Ves­sels under con­tract with the US Navy. Austal invit­ed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jo Bon­ner to authen­ti­cate the keel. He was assist­ed by Jeff Cel­lon who is an “A” Class welder that has been part of the Austal team since May of 2010.

Con­gress­man Jo Bon­ner authen­ti­cat­ed the keel of JHSV 3
Click to enlarge

A tra­di­tion­al keel-lay­ing cer­e­mo­ny marks the first sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in the con­struc­tion of the ship. Due to Austal’s mod­u­lar approach to ship man­u­fac­ture, 32 of the 43 mod­ules used to form this 103-metre alu­minum cata­ma­ran design are already being assem­bled. For Austal, keel-lay­ing marks the begin­ning of final assem­bly. Five mod­ules have been moved from Austal’s Mod­ule Man­u­fac­tur­ing Facil­i­ty (MMF) and erect­ed in the final assem­bly bay in their pre-launch posi­tion. The rest will fol­low over the com­ing months.

“Fifty-three years ago, when there were 860 ships in the fleet, a rel­a­tive­ly small com­bat­ant, the USS Ever­sole, was at the right place at the right time, res­cu­ing 14 fish­er­men from con­test­ed dan­ger­ous waters,” said Joe Rel­la, Pres­i­dent and Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer of Austal USA. “The JHSV, as the future util­i­tar­i­an work­horse of the sup­port fleet, can serve a sim­i­lar role, and help the US Navy be where it needs to be to pre­vent crises and to sup­port the nation’s oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties.”

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 as part of a pro­gram poten­tial­ly worth over US$1.6 bil­lion. Eight of the nine options have been exer­cised pro­vid­ing Austal with nine total JHSV con­struc­tion con­tracts award­ed to date.

The JHSV is a rel­a­tive­ly new asset that will be an impor­tant Navy con­nec­tor. In peace­time, JHSVs will be oper­at­ing for­ward sup­port­ing Navy Expe­di­tionary Com­bat Com­mand and river­ine forces, the­ater coop­er­at­ing mis­sions, Seabees, Marine Corps and Army trans­porta­tion. Each JHSV 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 4 metres) will fur­ther enhance the­ater port access.

USNS Spear­head (JHSV 1) was chris­tened on Sep­tem­ber 17, 2011, and suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed builders’ tri­als in April in prepa­ra­tion for upcom­ing accep­tance tri­als. Austal held a keel-lay­ing cer­e­mo­ny for Choctaw Coun­ty (JHSV 2) in Novem­ber 2011. This ship is about 77 per cent com­plete and sched­uled for launch lat­er this year.

Austal is also cur­rent­ly prepar­ing a sec­ond US Navy Inde­pen­dence-vari­ant 127-metre Lit­toral Com­bat Ship (LCS) class ves­sel, Coro­n­a­do (LCS 4), for builder’s sea tri­als. USS Inde­pen­dence (LCS 2) has tran­si­tioned to her home port of San Diego. As prime con­trac­tor for the next LCS 10-ship con­tract, award­ed by the US Navy at the end of 2010, Austal has also begun work on the first ship of that con­tract, Jack­son (LCS 6), with Mont­gomery (LCS 8), Gabrielle Gif­fords (LCS 10) and Oma­ha (LCS 12) also under con­tract.

For the LCS and JHSV pro­grams, Austal, as prime con­trac­tor, is teamed with Gen­er­al Dynam­ics Advanced Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems, a busi­ness unit of Gen­er­al Dynam­ics. As the ship sys­tems inte­gra­tor, Gen­er­al Dynam­ics is respon­si­ble for the design, inte­gra­tion and test­ing of the ship’s elec­tron­ic sys­tems includ­ing the com­bat sys­tem, net­works, and seaframe con­trol. Gen­er­al Dynam­ics’ proven open archi­tec­ture approach allows for afford­able and effi­cient capa­bil­i­ty growth as tech­nolo­gies devel­op.

Austal has grown into one of south­ern Alabama’s largest employ­ers with over 2,800 employ­ees on staff hail­ing from the Mobile Area, Mis­sis­sip­pi, Flori­da, and beyond. Under the cur­rent work­load, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Amer­i­cans by the end of 2013, and will be ready to help the US Navy meet any nation­al secu­ri­ty con­tin­gency ahead.