Austal USA — the company that built the Superferry — is indeed a contender for the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) project.
The Navy announced today that it has awarded preliminary design contracts worth $3 million each to Austal, Bath Iron Works and Bollinger Shipyards Inc.
Austal is now in the position of being able to scrutinize the performance and cost of two American fast ferries it designed and constructed — the Hawaii Superferry and Westpac Express — in developing its proposal for the JHSV design.
That puts Austal on more solid footing in competing against Bollinger, which partnered with Incat to design and build three high speed vessels that have been used by the military: the Joint Venture, Spearhead and Swift.
Both the Swift and the Westpac Express were leased to the military so it could evaluate the JHSV concept. The Hawaii Superferry design is similar to the Westpac Express, but larger and faster.
The JHSV program is intended to produce a vessel that can carry personnel and a large cargo load, travel at high speeds and operate in both near shore and deep waters.
The third contender is Bath Iron Works, which has built numerous Navy ships, but no high speed vessels or ferries, so far as I could tell from its website.
So what’s at stake here?
Well, as I previously reported, one company will be chosen to build all eight of the JHSVs the Navy plans to buy, with the first slated to cost $150 million and the remaining seven projected to cost $130 million each.
The Navy press release states:
"Once delivered, the Joint High Speed Vessel will be a key component of the U.S. military's expeditionary warfare capability," said Rear Adm. Charles Goddard, program executive officer for ships. "This high speed transport will carry soldier or Marines, with their gear, to harbors that would normally be unusable by conventional maritime assets."
Once preliminary design is complete, the Navy will receive detail designs and construction proposals from the three teams. The Navy intends to award a single Phase Two detail design contract with construction options in late 2008. The first ship, an Army vessel, is expected to be delivered in 2011.
The JHSV program is a joint effort between the Army and the Navy to acquire high-speed vessels for the two branches of the U.S. military. JHSV will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. Currently the U.S. military leases two HSVs [Swift and Westpac Express] each capable of achieving speeds of more than 30 knots.
The current program calls for a total of eight ships, three to be operated by the Navy and five to be operated by the Army.”
Gee, it looks like the Hawaii Superferry needs to get back in service pretty quick so they can start identifying the design kinks — like maybe that pesky rudder.