HSV-2 Swift

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HSV-2 Swift
United States
Name: HSV-2 Swift
Ordered: October 2002
Builder: Incat, Tasmania, Australia
Yard number: 061
Acquired: 15 August 2003
Refit: October 2008
Homeport: Prince of Wales Bay
Nickname(s): Vomit Comet
Status: Available for sale or charter
General characteristics
  • 1,668 long tons (1,695 t) full
  • 940 long tons (955 t) standard
Length: 321.5 ft (98.0 m)
Beam: 88.6 ft (27.0 m)
Draft: 11.15 ft (3.40 m)
Propulsion: Caterpillar 3618 marine diesel engines
  • 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) maximum
  • 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) operating
Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi)
  • Approximately 605 long tons (615 t)
  • Approximately 28,740 sq ft (2,670 m2) cargo deck
Complement: 17 Contract Mariners; berthing for 107 with additional temporary berthing for 87 when seating is converted
Crew: 35
Armament: 4 × .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun mounts

HSV-2 Swift is a hybrid catamaran originally leased by the United States Navy as a mine countermeasures and sea basing test platform. She is now privately owned and operated by Sealift Inc. and previously chartered to the United States Navy Military Sealift Command. She was primarily used for fleet support and humanitarian partnership missions. The HSV stands for "High Speed Vessel", and her home port while chartered was Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel had two CONMAR crews that typically rotated every three months to keep the ship deployed eleven months per year. The minimum crew size is 35; 18 were military with the balance civilian, provided through American Maritime Officers and Seafarers International Union of the United States Merchant Marine. On rare occasion that she is in a United States port, it was usually Naval Station Mayport, Florida, supporting the Fourth Fleet or Charleston, South Carolina, for major maintenance. Rota, Spain, was considered by the crew to be the "Mediterranean home away from home".[1]

Construction and acquisition[edit]

The ship was constructed by the Australian shipbuilder Incat in Hobart, Tasmania, and was leased to the U.S. Navy through Bollinger/Incat of Lockport, Louisiana. She was the second catamaran the Navy leased to test new technologies and concepts associated with the Chief of Naval Operations's "Seapower 21" plan. The contract value for the first year was $21.7 million.

Swift is the fourth Incat-built high-speed wave piercing catamaran to enter military service, following behind HMAS Jervis Bay, U.S. Army Vessel (USAV) Theater Support Vessel Spearhead (TSV-X1) and HSV-X1 Joint Venture.


The ship is a wave-piercing, aluminum-hulled, commercial catamaran with military enhancements, such as a helicopter flight deck, vehicle deck, small boat and unmanned vehicle launch and recovery capability, and a communications suite. She features a new, modular design, which will allow her to be refitted to support missions without requiring long shipyard periods. While from the front the vessel looks like a trimaran, the center hull does not rest in the water and is not used for buoyancy. As a logistics vessel, the ship does not have water-tight compartments or weapons systems. Propulsion is provided by directional water jets, so the ship does not have propellers or a rudder for steering, and can maneuver in twelve feet of water.[1]

Operational history[edit]

The first ship of this class to be used by the Navy, Joint Venture, proved its military mettle during the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a forward staging platform for Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism and United States Navy SEAL (SEa, Air, Land) teams in the shallow waters of Umm Qasr, Iraq. The Navy hoped to build upon lessons learned from Swift and its predecessor, and eventually use the information to create a new class of littoral combat ships.[citation needed]

In the autumn of 2003, while operating with the Fifth Fleet, Swift completed the fastest-ever transit of the northern Great Barrier Reef from Cairns to Booby Island, Australia, averaging slightly over 39 knots (72 km/h).[citation needed] During flight deck certifications, Swift's crew conducted aircraft recovery while making 43 knots (80 km/h) during one recovery and had 66 knots (122 km/h) apparent winds during another recovery.

In November 2003 she began West African Training Cruise-04. She first visited the South African Navy base at Durban on 3 November 2003. She then exercised with the SAN and SAAF off Simon's Town in the Western Cape. As of early Nov 2003, as reported by Jane's Defence Weekly, 19 November 2003, exercises were also planned with Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Swift had embarked a small United States Marine Corps detachment for the cruise, 'which will draw on Norway Air-Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade equipment for the exercises.'[2] The JDW story said that Marine reservists will practice with the NALMEB equipment, and the cruise would also be used to evaluate an experimental lightweight ROWPU that was at that time being tested by the USMC warfighting laboratory. She returned in early 2004.

In 2004, Swift was tapped to provide logistical assistance during the Tsunami Relief Effort in North Sumatra.

The two crews performed the fastest crew swap ever in Pearl Harbor, with Gold crew relieving Blue crew in less than eight hours. Once on station, Swift embarked her first ever helicopter detachment, providing a base of operations for the two helicopters and their crew for 30 consecutive days at sea.[citation needed] Swift crew also conducted many firsts for the unique vessel, including 30 straight days at sea, supporting a helicopter detachment and its support crew with high tempo flight operations as well as conducting two underway replenishments.

Upon detaching from the relief effort, the crew then took Swift through her first transit of the Suez Canal. The Swift was also the first U.S. Naval ship to be certified for 100% electronic navigation,[citation needed] removing the centuries-old requirement for ships to carry a full complement of navigation charts. Swift was used to test experimental equipment, with the crews reporting back on the effectiveness of the new equipment.

In 2005, "Swift" played a major role in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. With most roads inaccessible along the gulf coast, Swift and its crew delivered the necessary supplies by water, traversing the Mississippi River multiple times hauling humanitarian aid between Pensacola, FL and New Orleans, LA.

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, HSV-2 Swift was used to transport humanitarian assistance materials from Cyprus to Beirut.

Since departing Naval Station Mayport, Florida on April 25, Swift serving as a Global Fleet Station (GFS) hosted more than 1,000 host nation military and civilian personnel during twelve visits to seven countries such as Belize, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama. In these countries, personnel on board Swift conducted 39,890 hours of subject matter expert exchanges in such areas as leadership, small boat operations, port security and small unit tactics.

The six-month US Navy sponsored GFS deployment tested the Navy’s GFS concept, a maritime security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global partnerships through training and cooperation activities. The Swift transported US military training teams to conduct maritime training with regional civil and maritime services.[citation needed]

During the last half of the deployment, more than 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) of medical and food supplies were donated through Project Handclasp. The Swift hosted numerous dignitaries, including the Prime Minister of Jamaica and U.S. Ambassadors to Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Jamaica.[citation needed]

The GFS completed its pilot mission, Sunday, September 30, when the Swift returned to Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

On May 5, 2010, HSV-2, along with various embarked Navy and Marine Corps units, departed Naval Station Mayport for a five-month deployment for Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

  • While in port, Swift received 140 Project Handclasp pallets and two fire engines. The Wisconsin National Guard State Partnership Program donated the fire engines to Project Handclasp for transportation to Nicaragua, their partner nation.
  • Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.
  • SPS is an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.[3]
Swift with Tethered Aerostat

In April 2013, a TIF-25K Tethered Aerostat (unmanned blimp) was tested from the stern of HSV-2. The aerostat can be positioned 3,000 feet above the vessel for surveillance.[4]

Swift was to be replaced with USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) when that vessel came into service.[5] HSV-2 Swift ended its service with Military Sealift Command in late May 2013. Originally chartered in July 2003 as an interim mine warfare command and support ship for "transformational" mine warfare modular mission payload initiatives, the ship had been sent to the Persian Gulf, South Africa, the North Sea, and Hawaii within one year. Other locations included the Gulf of Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, Sicily, Spain, and southern California. As mine demonstration missions wore down, the Swift was used in partnership missions, performing extended cruises to Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The five-year charter was renewed in 2008, and the ship continued to serve until the introduction of Joint High Speed Vessels. Once out of service, the Swift was again given its civilian shipbuilding designation Hull 061.[6]

Swift returned to Incat at Hobart in July 2013 for refit for sale or charter.[7] As of July 2015 the vessel is reported to be operated by the UAE's National Marine Dredging Company.[8]


Related developments[edit]


  1. ^ a b Brumley, Jeff: "Unusual ship visits Mayport after 6-month deployment to African waters" Florida Times-Union, October 5, 2011
  2. ^ Helmoed-Romer Heitman, 'US Navy catamaran on training cruise off West Africa,' JDW 19 November 2003, p.19
  3. ^ Wood, Robert (2010-05-06). "HSV 2 Swift Departs for Southern Partnership Station 2010". navy.mil. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  4. ^ Allen, Sean (2013-01-05). "USNS Swift Completes Aerostat and UAV Testing, Departs Key West for Operation Martillio". navy.mil. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  5. ^ Cavas, Christopher P. "Interview: U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Buzby." Defense News, 15 October 2012.
  6. ^ Once Ballyhooed High-Speed Vessel Leaves Service Quietly - Defensenews.com, 12 November 2013
  7. ^ Nick Clark (July 30, 2013). "Swift returns to Hobart". The Mercury. 
  8. ^ Binnie, Jeremy (28 July 2015). "HSV-2 turns up off Aden". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. 

This article was based on numerous Navy public domain press releases.[specify]

External links[edit]