Skip to comments.Combat tests Experimental Ship High-speed vessel proven during war in Iraq
Posted on 06/20/2003 8:37:11 AM PDT by LSUfan
It still may be an experimental ship, but a new, high-tech support vessel the Corps is testing for future amphibious operations already has gotten its first taste of combat operations.
Just hours after Operation Iraqi Freedom began, the High Speed Vessel X-1 Joint Venture sped into the shallow Persian Gulf waters near the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, acting as an afloat forward staging base for Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams and Navy SEAL commandos.
In one of the first raids of the war, the HSV deployed a commando team March 20 in Mark V and Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, which sped forward to seize two offshore oil terminals at the entrance of the port.
Shortly after the successful takedown, the SEAL team was replaced by a FAST detachment which had been held in reserve aboard the HSV to guard the platforms against any Iraqi counterattacks.
For the first few hours of the war, we were the most forward ship in the U.S. Navy, said Navy Capt. Phil Beierl, Joint Venture commander. I was more worried about running aground than I was of taking fire.
The Marine Corps, Navy and Army are experimenting with the HSV to determine the utility of the ships innovative design for a variety of missions. The tri-hull Joint Venture can carry more than 700 tons of cargo at speeds averaging 35 knots. It also can slip into ports too shallow to accommodate similarly sized cargo ships, giving logisticians greater options for off loading and transporting equipment between ports and large transport ships, officials say.
While the Corps mostly is interested in the Joint Venture as an in-theater transport, the March 20 platform raid marked the first time the HSV had been used for combat operations rather than logistics, demonstrating the utility of the water-jet-powered ship, said Lt. Col. Larry Ryder, Marine Corps program manager for the Joint Venture.
Built by Australia-based Incat and supplied by a cooperative venture between that company and Louisiana-based Bollinger Shipyards, the Joint Venture has been shared by the Army, Navy and Marines for the last three years. Each service has experimented with the ship as a high-speed transport, special-operations support ship and mine hunter.
The Navy and Marine Corps recently signed a lease for an updated HSV with greater cargo capacity and off loading capability. The HSV 2 Swift will be delivered in August and will sail with a Navy crew from Australia to the Persian Gulf, where it will be used for further transport and other operations, Beierl said.
For now, however, the Corps will use the HSV X-1 to transport equipment from ports in the Persian Gulf to staging areas in Bahrain and Kuwait as more Marines depart from the region, Ryder said.
The ships first operational lift for Marines was conducted May 21, when the Joint Venture shipped dozens of trucks and containers loaded with maps from Kuwait to Bahrain. The trip took eight hours at an average speed of nearly 30 miles per hour. Using trucks to transport the cargo overland to Bahrain would have taken two days, not including the time needed to arrange country clearances and border crossings, said Lt. Col. Patrick Connelly, chief logistician for the operation.
The HSV is definitely the transportation mode of choice for this move, Connelly said.
Ryder will continue to coordinate transport operations with the Joint Venture until late summer, when Beierl and his crew of 40 sail the ship to Australia to hand it over to the Army for good. In the meantime, Corps testers hope to use the Joint Venture to transport gear from shallow ports in Iraq to the Kuwaiti naval base, then on to Maritime Prepositioning Force ships moored offshore a mission planners hope will demonstrate the HSVs utility to support the Corps sea-basing concept.
The HSV is performing superbly, Beierl said. Everything weve done with experiments back home weve been able to do here in the real world.
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