Marines Charge Ahead on HSVs
I enjoyed the discussion we had recently on high speed vessels, especially within the post “Army Leads in Amphibious Techniques“. Within the comments there was this little tidbit from small boats expert Lee Wahler:
Mike the JHSVs are meant to discharge at austere ports – once again a term of art not a beach meaning alongside a pier without facilities. The dirty little secret is that the HSV WestPac Express has been discharging to several beaches prepared by the Marines since it entered service more than SEVEN years ago. But beaching is NOT a Joint rqmt its a “service-unique” one so guess what not in JHSV specs.
Not a perfect solution but definitely a solution as the Navy budget continues to crash and burn and solutions must be found for the Navy’s shrinking number of giant multi-billion amphibious ships. The Marines haven’t been completely distracted by the Big Ship syndrome either, but as usual are exploring new ideas to maintain their lead in this technique. Here is an fascinating story of high speeds vessels in use by the Leathernecks, from the Okinawa-based Marines:
HSV offers transportation alternative to III MEF
Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Denny
OKINAWA, Japan (December 4, 2009) — The Westpac Express is a high speed vessel that III Marine Expeditionary Force uses to transport Marines to other countries for exercises and operations.
The vessel is a fast, newer and cost effective option of transporting Marines and equipment, said J. Adam Parsons, the Westpac Express shipmaster.
“HSVs are used in today’s military because of their light weight and high speed capabilities,” said Parsons. “Typical transport ships travel at speeds of 10-14 knots, whereas the Westpac Express can travel at 39 knots with a full load.”
The ship is water jet propulsion driven. Four Caterpillar 3618 diesel engines pump water from beneath the ship and forces it out the rear of the ship to propel it forward.
The HSV was originally built in Australia as a civilian transport vessel. The Marine Corps leased the vessel in 2001 to test its transportation capabilities.
The ship can carry more than a C-17 aircraft, said Parsons.
“The Express can carry 900 service members and 450 tons of equipment, along with crew of 15,” said Keith A. Amberg, the chief mate in charge of cargo and deck operations on the Westpac Express. More…