Thursday, January 21, 2010

Australian High Speed Ship to Transport Haiti Aid

High speed catamaran Alakai sister ship to Huakai in HawaiiThe US government is deploying the Australian designed 113 metre high speed catamaran “Huakai” to assist with Haiti relief. Completed last year as a vehicle ferry for Hawaii, the ship can carry up to 800 tonnes at 40 knots. It has a shallow draft of 3.7 m, water jets and 20 metre ramp, allowing it to dock and unload without assictance. It is likely the ship will shuttle between Haiti, Guantanamo Bay and Miami.

A similar operation was carried out by the high speed catamaran HMAS Jervis Bay, operating between Darwin and East Timor from 1999 to 2001. Like Huakai, this was a surplus commercial ferry taken up for government use. The US military were impressed with this and leased a number of Australian designed catermarans.

The US Department of Defence has contracted Austal (who built the Huakai), to build up to ten similar "Joint High Speed Vessels" (JHSV) for military transport. The first named “Fortitude” (JHSV 1) is being constructed in the USA. Tjhis will be followed by Vigilant (JHSV 2) and Spearhead (JHSV 3).

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