Joint High Speed Vessels Support Marine Corps Missions

By Maj. Gen. Andrew W. O’Donnell, Jr.
Assistant Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration (CD&I)

As the Navy’s joint high speed vessels become operational and join the fleet, Maj. Gen. O’Donnell explains the relevance of JHSV across a wide range of operations.

The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) prepares to moor pierside at Naval Station Mayport basin after picking up the U.S. service members who participated in Southern Partnership Station 2014, Oct. 7, 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nations militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Henderson/Released)

The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) prepares to moor pierside at Naval Station Mayport basin after picking up the U.S. service members who participated in Southern Partnership Station 2014, Oct. 7, 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nations militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Henderson/Released)

It is an exciting time as one of the Navy’s newest ship classes, the joint high-speed vessel, enters service. The Marine Corps has been involved with high speed vessels for over a decade, supporting past experimentation on the leased vessels, Joint Venture and Swift, and utilizing the Westpac Express to transport troops, equipment and supplies throughout the Pacific.

I see the JHSV playing an important role in our Expeditionary Force 21 Capstone Concept implementation as an auxiliary platform to support Marine forces. Since the JHSV is built to commercial standards and is not an amphibious warfare ship, it does not possess an assault echelon/forcible entry capability but it can be used to support the amphibious warfare ship fleet for closure and employment of Marines.

The JHSV is an excellent platform to support theater security cooperation plans as a global fleet or partnership station or for crises in response to foreign humanitarian/disaster relief events, noncombatant evacuation operations and intra-theater movement for a wide range of mission requirements. The JHSV can transport 600 short tons of cargo and personnel for 1200 nautical miles at 35 knots, and its shallow draft and maneuverability allow it to access austere ports and harbors, thereby increasing our options for employment of forces. The ship’s flight deck can accommodate our new AH and UH-1 Viper and Venom and our CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, to include the future CH-53K King Stallion, along with vertical replenishment with our

A CH-53 Sea Stallion and an MV-22B Osprey participate in flight operations aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Sept. 6, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Magen Weatherwax/Released)

A CH-53 Sea Stallion and an MV-22B Osprey participate in flight operations aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Sept. 6, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Magen Weatherwax/Released)

MV-22 Osprey. JHSV has 312 seats and 104 permanent berthing spaces. Without resupply, it can support 312 embarked personnel for four days or 104 personnel for 14 days. It is able to interface at-sea with mobile landing platforms and roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, thereby increasing our ability to transport and employ Marines to, from and within the sea base.

We have already begun embarking Marines on the JHSV.  On JHSV-1 USNS Spearhead’s first deployment early this year, Marines were aboard off the coast of Liberia for a crisis response exercise in support of EUCOM/AFRICOM and again in May as part of the Southern Partnership Station in support of SOUTHCOM.

The Marine Corps continues to explore with the Navy what other missions the JHSV could potentially support with modifications and alterations, such as enabling the V-22 aircraft to land and take off and launching amphibious vehicles while underway. We are just beginning to scratch the surface on the different ways we can maximize the use of this class of vessels.

Semper Fidelis,

Andrew W. O’Donnell, Jr.
Major General, United States Marine Corps
Assistant Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration

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Joint High Speed Vessels Support Marine Corps Missions