Thursday, January 3, 2008
The Navy is deploying HSV Swift to Africa to take part in the African Partnership Initiative.
The high speed vessel, HSV Swift, will depart Friday to join USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) off the west coast of Africa.
Swift will join the Navy's Global Fleet Station (GFS) initiative in an effort to promote maritime security, build relationships with surrounding nations and provide a stronger naval presence.
The ship will deploy from Little Creek Amphibious Base along with the Naval Station Ingleside, Texas-based Blue Crew, who will conduct a turnover with the Little Creek-based Gold Crew Thursday.
We have not seen any good articles on the pilot Global Fleet Station mission to Central America, and continue to look for a good summery. We still find that to be a bit odd, particularly considering the amount of attention that goes into promoting these types of missions before they begin. The hospital ships get the same coverage, a bunch of information up front but very little follow up.
However, we are getting good information on the use of High Speed Vessels. This is a particularly useful list of statistics from the same article.
In October, Swift returned to the United States after a two-year deployment that took the crew on a 100,000 nautical mile trip in which the crew visited over 30 countries and moored in over 100 ports.
HSV Swift is a rental, and the US Navy is getting its moneys worth. This leads to several questions. How cost effective are these high speed platforms compared to conventional platforms? For example, we know it costs more to send a ship like HSV Swift than to send a conventional ship, at least on a per ton basis; however we also would assume the speed is very useful.
For all the attention given HSV Swift, we don't see a lot of attention given in shipbuilding to producing ships like it. The JHSV program is scheduled to begin this year, FY09, but only consists of 8 platforms and it is a joint program with the Army. Given the amount of PR HSV Swift gets, one would think the Navy would want a few dozen of these low cost platforms. Or not.
While we know that these high speed vessels are cheap to produce, I get the impression they must be fairly expensive to operate, because that would explain why the Navy isn't building more of them. In our list of metrics, lift ranks very high, higher than tactical speed, which is why we advocate the CH-53K over the MV-22 as another example. These High Speed Vessels have 'decent' lift, not excellent, but do add speed to that lift capacity which can be important in some situations. It will be interesting to observe the evolution of high speed vessels as they become more numerous within the US Navy's deployment options.