POSTED: 15 NOVEMBER 2008 - 9:00am HST

Austal wins $1.6 billion JHSV contract

image above: Stern view ofSuperferry as JHVS with ramp loading military equipment. Who knew?

on 14 November 14 2008 in

As already disclosed by Alabama U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Austal has won the contract to design and build the U.S. Department of Defense's next generation multi-use platform, the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).

The Pentagon formally announced today that Austal USA, Mobile Ala., is being awarded a $185,433,564 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2217) for the firm quantity of one Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) with options for up to nine additional ships and associated shore-based spares for the Phase II downselect of the JHSV Program.

The JHSV Program will provide high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies and equipment for the U. S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. Work will be performed in Mobile, Ala., and is expected to be completed by November 2010.

With the options for the nine additional vessels expected to be exercised between FY09 and FY13, the program is potentially worth over US$1.6 billion.

Similar to the Austal-built "WestPac Express" operated by the US Marines for the past seven years, the JHSV will be capable of transporting troops and their equipment, supporting humanitarian relief efforts, operating in shallow waters and reaching speeds in excess of 35 knots fully loaded. The vessels will be a joint-use platform operated by both the United States Army and Navy.

The JHSV will have a 103 m catamaran hull (which is actually shorter than the 113 m Hawaii SuperFerry cats built by the yard) and a speed of more than 35 knots. A draft of 3.8 m will allow superior access to "austere" ports.

With a payload of 635 tonnes, its range at 35 knots will be 1,200 nautical miles.
Accommodations include embarked troop berthing for 150 troops and airline style seating for 312 Troops at 5.25 ft seating pitch.

The JHSV flight deck will be capable of handling the CH-53E, the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military. It will have a loading ramp arrangement capable of supporting M1A2 Abrams tanks.

An open, unobstructed mission deck will offer a usable cargo area of more than 1,800 sq. meters (clear height of 4.75 m and turning diameter of 26.21 m).

Propulsion power will be provided by MTU 8000 engines, as used in the LCS and Hawaii Superferry.

MTU 8000 Series diesels offer the world's highest power-to-weight ratio in their power range, delivering up to 12,200 bhp (9,100 kW) of continuous power, and a fuel consumption of less than 190g/kW h.

The JHSV will have an active motion control system with four control surfaces.
"Being selected as prime contractor for a major U.S. Department of Defense shipbuilding program demonstrates Austal's capabilities as a defense supplier," said Austal Managing Director Bob Browning. He termed the ten vessel program "an important step in Austal's strategy to create longer-term, more predictable earnings for our investors."

At Austal's Mobile shipyard, work is continuing on the first phase of a new state-of-the-art Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF). Upon completion in mid-2009, the first half of the 70,000 square meter MMF will be available for the fabrication of all JHSV modules.

Austal USA's 1,000-strong workforce will grow to more than 1,500 as a result of the JHSV program.

Austal is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, who will design, integrate, and test the JHSV's electronic systems, including an Open Architecture Computing Infrastructure, internal and external communications, electronic navigation, aviation, and armament systems.

image above: Superferry is only a few details and a paint job away from military duty as a JHSV



POSTED: 4 AUGUST 2008 - 3:30pm HST

Superferry Corporation seeks DOD contract

image above :Cover illustration on HSF proposal to DOD shows WestPac Express and Superferry Alakai

by Juan Wilson on 4 August 2008 revision 1.1 080805

I have received a PDF file from an obscured source that appears to be a proposal from the Hawaii Superferry Corporation (HSF) to the Department of Defense (DOD). Click here to download PDF 3meg file.

The proposal is for the outfitting of the second Superferry (Austal hull A616), now under construction at Austal USa in Mobile, Alabama, with what it calls "National Defense Features" (NDF) that would make the new Superferry more useful to the military.

The document paints a picture of a working partnership between the Superferry Corporation, Austal USa and the US Navy to coordinate the construction of civilian ferries for military use and ultimately to develop a Navy ship class that began with the Marine Third Expeditionary Force use of WestPac Express.

The proposal states:


It seems evident that the impressive capabilities of these new, large, and fast commercial vessels could be of important service in carrying out in-theater lift missions for the Department of Defense (DOD) under any rapid mobiization scenario envisioned and codified by the VISTA program.

But operational autonomy and self-sustainability appear to be essential mission objectives for most of the scenarios discussed and reviewed by military authorities. Accordingly, it is proposed that DOD sponsor the addition of three features critical to self-sustainability under the National Defense Feature (NDF) provision of law.

These three features described in more detail below are the installed folding ramp system, a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant, and a comparable certified wastewater treatment and disposal system.

We believe that accomplishment of these additions will provide significantly more flexibility and utility of these vessels in rapidly responding to the demanding and diverse requirements of national defense service.

With these features installed, the mobilization period before readiness for DOD service in any time of emergency can be reduced to a matter of a few days.


The document appears to be a second or third generation photo copy that has been scanned and converted into a PDF file before distribution. The document is dated 11 March 2008 an looks to be on Superferry Corporation stationary.

Besides the cover (see detail above) the document has twelve numbered pages and three pages of illustrations.

If the document is genuine, it is supporting evidence that details what the Superferry proposes to do to redesign the Superferry fleet (and future JHSV's) to meet military specifications.

The primary NDF improvements are:

1) the addition of a loading ramp capable of loading a wide range of military hardware onto the vehicle deck from the stern of the vessel (like the Marine's WestPac Express in Okinawa.

2) the addition of seawater desalinization equipment for extended journeys

3) the capability of handling waste water generated on extended journeys.

AS to the ramp, remember that the clumsy use of barges for loadingthe Superferry were only considered because they would not constitute harbor infrastructure improvements and would therefore not trigger a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A genuine EIS could sink or delay the project. That would threaten the prospective loan guarantees of $150 million from the Maritime Administration (MARAD).

MARAD would only fund the project if the ferries there were no encumbrances from exposure to EIS regulations and if the HSF participated in the military's Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) program that makes merchant marine ships available to the Navy.

Superferry lobbies for military upgrade
Company spends $210K on lobbyists to obtain funds for vehicle ramp
by Derrick DePledge on 14 June 2008 in The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawaii Superferry has spent $210,000 since last summer to lobby for federal money to install features on its second high-speed catamaran to make it more attractive for military use.

Lobbyists hired by Superferry approached the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense to help pay for a vehicle ramp and other improvements.

The ramp would allow the new catamaran to load and unload vehicles at most large piers instead of relying on shore-based ramps and barges.

Superferry paid Blank Rome LLC, a prominent law and lobbying firm, to try to obtain federal money through the National Defense Features program to cover the cost of improvements to its second catamaran under construction at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. The defense program covers the installation of militarily useful features on commercial ships if the owners agree to make the ships available to the military during emergencies.

Superferry also may eventually retrofit the Alakai, which is now in commercial passenger and cargo service between O'ahu and Maui, with a vehicle ramp and other improvements. The improvements to the catamarans, if completed, would make the vessels self-sustaining and better suited for military assignments here and abroad. The second ferry is scheduled for delivery next February.

"Our customers have found that the current barge loading system is easy to use, fast and convenient, and works well for both cars and large trucks," Superferry said yesterday in response to questions from The Advertiser. "Adding a ramp to the vessel, in addition to our barges, would provide additional flexibility.

"We are looking at several options for improvements to be made under this program and ramps is one of them."

The federal lobbying expenses, the most Superferry has spent with Blank Rome since it hired the firm in 2004, came during the time when Superferry was fighting for its survival in the Islands after court challenges and public protests. The state Supreme Court ruled in August that the state should not have exempted the project from environmental review. The state Legislature approved a bill, signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle, that allowed the ferry to operate while an environmental impact statement is being prepared.

Superferry said yesterday that the lobbying activities at the federal level were unrelated to what was happening in the Islands and were about exploring available federal funding opportunities under the defense program.

Superferry's consideration of vehicle ramps on its catamarans validates the work of staff at the state Department of Transportation's harbors division. Staffers had argued in 2004 that Superferry should install a quarter stern ramp on the first catamaran because it would have saved the state on initial capital investments for shore-based ramps and barges, would have been less intrusive for other harbor users, and would have given the vessel more flexibility at Maui's congested Kahului Harbor.

Superferry countered that the ramp would add too much weight to the catamaran and hamper travel speed and load and unload time at harbors, which could reduce consumer convenience and the project's profitability.

The Department of Transportation's initial position was that the state would not pay for shore-based ramps and barges because other harbor users could request that the state buy or build their improvements. The state, however, ultimately agreed to $40 million in harbor improvements for the project that is supposed to be repaid by Superferry over time.

Harbors' staff made a pitch for Superferry to install a vehicle ramp in late 2004 but Superferry refused, according to documents released to The Advertiser under the state's open-records law. A Department of Transportation staffer, describing a meeting in the governor's offices with Bob Awana — then Lingle's chief of staff — and Superferry executives and department officials, wrote in an e-mail: "Decisions made: We need to pursue EXEMPTION; and HSF will not provide any ramps on vessel."

Mike Formby, the department's deputy director for harbors, said yesterday that there are pros and cons to adding vehicle ramps at this point. On-board ramps would give the catamarans more flexibility, but would likely not be as wide as the existing shore-based ramps that allow for easy loading and unloading. The ramp and barge configuration has caused problems at Kahului Harbor, where a tug has been necessary to keep the barge up against the pier during ocean swells, but has worked well at other harbors.

"While ramps will introduce flexibility into the system, they will also introduce some operational constraints," Formby said.

Dick Mayer, a retired economics professor who lives on Maui and has been active against the ferry, said the vehicle ramps and other improvements would make the catamarans more marketable elsewhere. "Those actions would place the investment made by the people and state of Hawai'i in jeopardy because the Superferry would be more easily able to leave," he said.

Superferry executives had touted the military utility of the catamarans when they were initially describing the project to the state. A September 2004 document from Superferry, obtained by The Advertiser under the open-records law, discussed the growing training needs of the military in the Islands and said the catamarans would have strengthened vehicle decks to handle heavy military vehicles, helicopters, ammunition and other equipment.

John Lehman, a Superferry investor and former secretary of the Navy, and a Superferry executive told Pacific Business News in March 2005 of the ferry's potential to move the Army's Stryker brigade and other military equipment between O'ahu and the Big Island.

Sean Connaughton, administrator of the federal Maritime Administration, which provided federal loan guarantees for ferry construction, told a Maui court last year of the military utility of the ferry as part of the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement program. The program is a partnership between the military and the maritime industry to provide the military with sealift capacity during war or national emergency.

But Superferry executives have downplayed the military use of the catamarans since the court challenges and protests. Thomas Fargo, Superferry's president and chief executive officer and a retired Navy admiral, said when he took over the company in April that the success of the project would be built on commercial passenger and cargo business.

Several activists who oppose the project have been fixated on Superferry's military connections and have raised suspicions about whether it can be commercially profitable.

The Superferry catamarans are similar in design to Austal's WestPac Express, which has been contracted by the military as a support vessel in the Pacific.
Blank Rome's federal lobbying reports on Superferry for last year and the first quarter of this year have undergone substantial revision. The initial report for the last six months of last year, filed in February, showed less than $10,000 in lobbying income from Superferry. A second report in February raised the figure to $40,000. A third report, filed in May, put the figure at $120,000.

Blank Rome's lobbying report for the first quarter of 2008, filed in April, initially reported $30,000 in lobbying income from Superferry. An amended report, filed in May, raised the figure to $90,000.

The firm explained that the changes were made after the discovery of additional lobbying work on behalf of Superferry and because of the expenses from a subcontractor working with the firm on Superferry.

Austal submits final JHSV proposal to Navy
Austal press release on 30 July 2008

Austal USA submitted its Phase II Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) proposal to the US Navy this week bringing to closure the Phase I (Preliminary Design) period. Austal was one of three bidders awarded a Phase I contract in January 2008 and it is expected that a single Phase II contract will be awarded later this year for detail design and construction of the lead JHSV with options to build up to ten ships.
The Austal JHSV Team offers a low risk, proven technology solution combining the expertise of Austal USA, Austal Ships (Australia) and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GDAIS). The Austal JHSV Team delivers proven design and construction expertise of commercially based high speed vessels in the USA and the integration of military computing environments.
The JHSV program is a joint effort between the Army and Navy to acquire high-speed vessels for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment.
Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, has demonstrated that it has the necessary infrastructure, processes, and skilled workforce in place to design, construct, deliver and service 100-meter+ high-speed ships in the US. Austal USA recently launched the 127-meter trimaran Littoral Combat Ship (LCS2) Independence for the US Navy and has under construction the second 107-meter Hawaii Superferry catamaran high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry. In 2007 Austal USA delivered the first Hawaii Superferry Alakai for intra-island service in the Hawaiian Islands.

Austal was recently contracted to provide additional features and equipment on the second Hawaii Superferry to facilitate its use by the military
. This follows on from the long term charter, since 2001, of the Austal built 101-meter vehicle-passenger catamaran WestPac Express by the Third Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) based on Okinawa, Japan. As an adapted commercial vessel WestPac Express has demonstrated the enormous flexibility, cost savings and efficiencies achievable by commercial fast ferry technology over conventional air or sea transport.

The ability to quickly reload and transport a wide variety of equipment and supplies across vast distances at high speed was demonstrated in the Asian Tsunami where WestPac Express rapidly delivered humanitarian assistance. This was aided by the shallow draft and manoeuvrability allowing unassisted access to damaged and unimproved ports close to the most badly damaged areas.|

see also:
Island Breath: MARAD commitment to HSF 5/11/08
Island Breath: Fargo - Facsist at the Helm 4/26/08
Island Breath: Superferry audit shows crime 4/19/08
Island Breath: The Governor's SuperConspiracy 10/18/07
Island Breath: Superferry and the Military 10/13/06

Island Breath: Superferry Hidden Agenda 10/3/06

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