NavWeek: Full Speed Ahead

RSS

The Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV) program is certainly getting a lot of attention these days.

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For a Pentagon effort that’s not necessarily a good thing. But this is the exception. The Austal USA-built ship has been meeting or beating schedules and cost schedules – so far.

Its potential is starting to get some people thinking. Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. chief of naval operations, has said he sees Marines and gear hitching rides on JHSV, which would be a much cheaper alternative than what’s available to them now.

The Marine Corps is taking notice. They see lots of promise with the ship. It may need a modification or two – slight tweaks, essentially – but the ship could prove useful in quite a few scenarios.

And there’s bound to be some international interest, for many of the same reasons the Navy and Marines are keen on the ship. Consider a recent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) report about Australia’s efforts to gain and maintain greater military presence in the Asia-Pacific.

“The decision to move towards a more ‘marinized’ army by assigning the Royal Australian Regiment to a dedicated amphibious battle group has a compelling strategic rationale,” CSBA says in its report, “Gateway to the Indo-Pacific Australian Defense Strategy and The Future of the Australia-U.S. Alliance.”

CSBA says, “It may not prove wise, however, to continue to disburse large amounts of funds on expensive LHDs [Landing Helicopter Dock ships], which, due to their growing vulnerability to anti-ship missiles, run the risk of becoming ‘wasting assets.’”

Those ships, CSBA warns, could wind up being only suitable for things like “soft power projection, missions for which cheaper alternatives for sea transport similar to the U.S. Joint High-Speed Vessel are available.”

Available indeed.

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