Army, Navy, and the JHSV

Craig here.

Don’t think we discussed this news item from earlier in the year:

Army-to-Navy Transfer of U.S. JHSVs Finalized

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.


Artist Depiction of the JHSV

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.

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LCM-6 at the Army Transportation Museum

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).

Army LCU2000 Class Vessels

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).

LSV-7 SSGT Robert T. Kuroda

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?


6 thoughts on “Army, Navy, and the JHSV”

  1. The Marines have the LCAC’s now? Last one I got a ride on was Navy-owned and operated.

    Anyway, re: JHSV- mount some guns on it, put about a company of Marines on it, and go hang around off Somalia. That’s what it should be doing.

    1. LCACs are indeed Navy owned and operated.

      But while the LCACs are designed to land the assault elements of a Marine force, ALL of the Army watercraft shown are intended strictly for logistics over the beach, and NOT for assault landings.

    2. LCAC is indeed a Department of the Navy ship/vehicle/hovercraft/what-ever. And those are still around doing what they do.

      OTOH, the LACV was “Army” all the way. When phased out in the 1990s, many were sold as surplus. A few ended up in Alaska serving remote villages.

    1. That’s what it is. In fact, that’s the only one that still exists. The Navajo was never accepted into service, and the cruise missile that was in service, Mace, was finally taken out about 1970. My father was assigned to tone of the bases that originally deployed them in 1959, Sembach AFB in Germany. Last time I was in Germany in 1973, the Sembach sattelite, Gruenstadt AFS, the hardened silos were still in place. We didn’t get cruise missiles again until the Tomahawk.

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