HSV Gets Marines There Faster

Experimenting with high speed, high capacity, shallow draft vessel is off to a resounding success on another front, as Austal USA last month announced a three-year, $31 million contract with the U.S. Military Sealift Command Chartering its 330-ft. (100.5-m) high speed catamaran.

As reported recently in the February 17, 2002 edition of Stars and Stripes, in an article by Greg Tyler, Sasebo bureau chief Pacific edition, the WestPac Express catamaran has helped the marines not only move more troops and equipment more quickly, but has also helped them to save tremendous amounts of money. The WestPac Express, an Australian-built ship leased for use by the U.S. military, can carry cargo roughly equivalent to the amount loaded on about nine C-17 cargo aircraft, Chief Warrant Officer Gene Rose said. The ship's cargo deck can hold 251 cars or 16 trucks along with 96 cars. "The ship can hold 417 tons of equipment, and we can carry 970 passengers. The C-17 carries only 100 [passengers]," he said. "The HSV is best utilized in a situation where you need to pile on the Marines, and just keep it coming and coming.

We can do that indefinitely." Rose said.

The vessel can travel at speeds approaching 50 mph for 48 hours before refueling. In the past, smaller loads of Marines and equipment were transported to exercises in airplanes, one load after another, sometimes taking two weeks just to gel everybody in the right place.

"It's 640 miles from Okinawa to South Korea, and for an exercise it used to take two weeks to fly the people and equipment there at a cost of about $600,000, at minimum," Rose said. "With this, we can get everyone and everything there in about 22 hours, at a cost of about $130,000."

Other stories from April 2002 issue

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