JHSV in Southern Partnership Station 2014


12/13/2014: Military Sealift Command Joint High-Speed Vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) departs Puerto Castilla in support of Southern Partnership Station 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14).

Southern Partnership Station 2014 was a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

Credit:Navy Public Affairs Support Element East:9/2/14

In an interview with then MSC Commander, Admiral Buzby, the Admiral highlighted how he saw the coming role of the JHSV:

SLD: Let us talk now about another modular ship, the Joint High Speed Vessel, which Col. Weisz, Deputy Commander of 2nd ESG, tells us is going to be included in the latest Bold Alligator exercise.

Admiral Buzby: It’s great to see the Bold Alligator series being reinvigorated and polishing up the great capability that the Navy/Marine Corps team has had for a very, very long time.  But maybe we haven’t through world events been able to exercise and keep honed as sharply as we may have wanted to in the past, so it’s great to see us getting back to that.

And at a time when we’re seeing new technology infused into our operations, so I think it’s really important that we exercise that, either virtually or actually.  And there probably needs to be the correct mix of both in successive years. But command-and-controlling, all of that technology and that size of force is not an easy challenge and it absolutely needs to be exercised and worked on.

Just because you are deploying a large force doesn’t mean that you know how to really use it.  And with the insertion of new capabilities we need to understand how it all comes together.

There’s the tactical level of actually using the gear itself, the user of it and how far it can steam and everything else.  But the bigger challenge is to command and control it well so that you get the most utility out of it, so you get the effect that you’re looking for. If you don’t employ them correctly, they’re not worth a damn, and you end up losing them, you end up underutilizing them, and leaving yourself open to damage.

The Bold Alligator series also highlights the role of the MSC. MSC forces are the enablers. We’re the ones these ships keep the force able to go off and do its mission; to stay forward, to keep the sea base operating, to sustain the forward location where they’re operating. It’s the elegant application of that logistics train, it has to flow and keep flowing material to make it all happen.

And we understand our role in the process and we’re very pleased to be recognized and even in an exercise role to play in it. In many people’s minds, the logistics force and the support forces are relegated to the rear area.  And that’s not really the case anymore.  We’re very much the key enabler and in a forward area.

SLD: Could you speak to the role of the JHSV in your view?

Admiral Buzby: When a MEU goes forward, deploys, it has an ACE attached to it.  And part of that ACE is a KC-130 that obviously doesn’t float with the ARG-MEU, but it’s attached and it’s there to do that intra-theater lift into the supporting an area. I think in many ways, Joint High-Speed Vessel is a maritime version of a C-130. It’s there in support of the ARG.  It’s going to be available potentially to run missions, to pull stuff forward, and it’s like a Humvee, supporting the heavier maneuver units.

It’s very reconfigurable; you can assemble it in many different ways. It’s a utility vehicle potentially for the MEU or for a carrier strike group depending on when they get into an area and they’re operating.  You have to be mindful of its capabilities and its limitations.  It’s not a heavy armored vessel; it’s not meant to go in harm’s way, particularly.

But it uses its speed for survivability, its ability to move very quickly.  And it could carry 600 tons over 1200 miles at 35 knots using its 20,000 square feet of mission bay – whatever you want, plus about 300 marines to wherever you need to go in a hurry. Once you kind of establish yourself in an area, it’s that maritime C-130 that can move a good chunk of material pretty quickly and pretty flexibly.  In this sense, I think it’s got a great future to deploy in that sort of scenario in support of a ARG-MEU or carrier strike group in the future.

One of the reasons why I’m having my change of command aboard the ship is I want to show it off to people. I want people to come see the ship.  I want people to crawl around and touch it, feel the ship; we’re going to hold the ceremony in the mission bay. People are going to walk up the vehicle ramp and go into the mission bay and behold what 20,000 square feet looks like.  And my way of thinking is it’s yet one more mission that it could be reconfigured to do.  It could host a large gathering of personnel.

I’m expecting people to come aboard and say “hey, we could do this,” or “oh, this could be used for that.”  I want leadership and young thinkers to say that and see that because you can’t help but think about it when you walk aboard.  You can’t help but think about it when you walk up on that flight deck.  You can’t help but think about it when you walk into the troop area.  It just jumps out at you.