Don’t think we discussed this news item from earlier in the year:
The move to transfer custody of all five Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) to the U.S. Navy was formally agreed upon May 2 with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Navy and U.S. Army.
The transfer was approved in December during Army-Navy war fighter talks. Previously, each service was planning to buy, field and crew its own force of JHSVs….
The ships are intended primarily for logistic operations, although they will be armed for self-defense. The aluminum, wave-piercing catamaran JHSVs are under construction by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., based on a commercial ferry design….
The JHSV program was formed in 2006 from a merger of the Army’s Theater Support Vessel and the Navy High-Speed Connector programs. The Navy has been handling design, contracting and oversight of the program.
The Army operates a sizeable fleet, including landing craft, tugs and barges to support waterborne logistic operations. At the instigation of the then-Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, the services last year discussed the potential transfer of all Army watercraft to the Navy, but in the end only the JHSVs will be transferred.
At the end of World War II, the Army operated over 120,000 ships. While most were harbor craft, some of these were large Liberty ships and troop transports. With the consolidation to the Department of Defense, the larger Army vessels went to Military Sea Transportation Service (Military Sealift Command now days). However the Army continued to operate many smaller ships and vessels in specific roles.
While never as contentious as the Army-USAF battle over armed aircraft (see earlier series on CAS – part one, part two, part thee, and part four), the Army has operated craft that overlapped Navy functions to some degree. Both the Army and Navy used the same Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) series for some time.
Both the Army and Navy used LCM-6 (pictured here) and LCM-8 craft in the ship-to-shore support role. But of course the Navy had that extra task of putting Marines on the beach. Both services operated larger Landing Craft Utility (LCU).
The Army also operates a small number of Logistic Support Vessels (LSV) in an intra-theater support role (which the JHSVs were likely to supplement or supplant).
Until the 1990s the Army operated a fleet of ship-to-shore landing hovercrafts designated LACV-30. Built by the same vendor as the Marines LCAC-1 series, the Army’s hovercraft were not intended for contested beach landings, but they were rather handy to have around.
Of course I’m offering only a quick walk through of the subject here. The brief point I would make however is that the Army requires some form of ship-to-shore support and intra-theater ship transport. The question, however, is should the Army retain an organic capability? Should the Army continue to operate its own fleet alongside the Navy? Or in the name of cost savings ask the Navy to perform 100% of that role?
And of course the
million billion dollar question – is the JHSV the right vessel for those roles?