On October 1, 2012, Austal USA successfully completed the launch process of the second Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), the recently christened USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2).
This 103-metre high-speed catamaran represents the US Department of Defense’s next generation multi-use platform. It is part of a 10-ship program potentially worth over US$1.6 billion.
Brian Leathers, Austal USA Interim President and Chief Financial Officer commented: “This is the ship’s first voyage, one of many in its future. Austal designed this ship to serve as a rapid transit workhorse for our military to assist in humanitarian efforts and to transport troops and their equipment from port to port. It is due to the important role that it will play in intra-theatre deployment / transportation that the Austal JHSV team takes such pride in our part in facilitating the success of the JHSV program.”
The launch of USNS Choctaw County was conducted in a multi-step process as follows:
• On Sunday, September 30, Goldhofer self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) lifted the entire 1,600-metric-ton ship almost three feet (0.9m) in the air and moved the JHSV approximately 400 feet (120m) onto a moored deck barge adjacent to the assembly bay.
• The deck barge with USNS Choctaw County onboard was towed a half mile down river to BAE Systems’ Southeast Shipyard, Mobile.
• The vessel was transferred to the Drydock Alabama, BAE’s floating dry dock.
• Today (October 1), the floating dry dock was submerged and USNS Choctaw County entered the water for the first time.
• USNS Choctaw County was taken from the drydock and towed back up river to Austal USA’s facility, where it will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the Navy.
This process was initially used during the launch event for the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship Coronado (LCS 4) in January 2012. A major improvement in safety and efficiency, the new roll-out method has reduced the time of the transfer process, and serves as a capstone in Austal’s effort to reduce cost and time required in future JHSV and LCS deliveries.
Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility on the Mobile Bay waterfront.
Austal is currently under contract with the US Navy to build nine 103-metre JHSVs under a 10-ship, US$1.6 billion contract and five 127-metre Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, US$3.5 billion 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.
These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Mobile, Alabama workforce to approximately 4,000 employees in order to fulfill the contract requirements.