Navy's new 338-foot catamaran stops at St. Petersburg port

The Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), the first of 10 Navy joint high-speed vessels designed for rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment, as it prepared for its Sept. 17, 2011 christening ceremony at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.


By TAMPA TRIBUNE, FLA. Published: February 11, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. — A new ship that will add speed and versatility to the Navy pulled into the Port of St. Petersburg on Sunday.

The USNS Spearhead, a 338-foot aluminum catamaran designed for speed, flexibility and maneuverability, will be used to transport troops equipment and supplies to where they are needed most.

Senior officials from U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command are scheduled to tour the ship and learn about its capabilities before it departs on Tuesday.

Though there is not time for public tours during the visit, local officials and members of the media were invited to have a look.

"St. Petersburg is known as a city of firsts with an eye to the future and by hosting this new ship's first official port visit, we demonstrate our support of the military and its commitment to safeguarding our country now and into the future," St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said in a prepared statement.

During a tour of the ship's bridge, Foster took a seat at the helm.

The ship can transport 600 tons of troops and equipment within a range of 1,200 nautical miles, or roughly the distance between Maine and Miami, at an average speed of 18 mph.

The 20,000-square-foot cargo bay is roughly the size of a basketball court with a 15-foot-high ceiling and can be reconfigured to carry anything from containers for disaster relief to tanks and troops. The ship also has a flight pad for helicopters.

It's the first of 10, so called Joint High-Speed Vessels that the Navy plans to operate.

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