One of the Pentagon's four high-speed twin-hull cargo vessels, the 700-ton Theater Support Vessel 1X Spearhead, was docked at Ford Island yesterday and for the past few days to give community and military leaders a demonstration of its capabilities.

Isles to see Army’s

The high-speed transport vessel
will ferry the coming Stryker vehicles

Hawaii will become the testing ground next year for two of the Army's latest high-technology weapons: the Stryker combat mobile vehicle and a 318-foot high-speed cargo catamaran.

TSV-1X Spearhead

Length: 318 feet
Weight: 700 tons
Crew: 31
Passengers: 292
Designer/builder: Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd.
Speed: 40 knots (46 mph)
Draft: 12 feet
Capacity: 14,700 square feet, including 23 Strykers

Source: U.S. Army

Maj. A.J. Hedeen, Army watercraft combat development spokesman, said yesterday the 700-ton Theater Support Vessel 1X will operate in island waters next year. It is capable of carrying 23 Strykers and their complements of soldiers.

Hedeen acknowledged that the future of the so-called USAV Spearhead is tied to the success of the Strykers.

"That's the biggest advantage," Hedeen said. "We can carry the equipment and troops together. When you roll off, you are ready to fight."

The 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade is being transformed into a fighting unit centered on 291 of the eight-wheeled, 20-ton combat vehicles.

The first two dozen Stryker vehicles should arrive at Schofield Barracks in May. The Army's latest combat vehicle, which can be outfitted in 10 different ways with everything from a 105 mm cannon for a mobile gun system to a completely wired command center, costs about $1.5 million each.

Hedeen said Spearhead will be used to transport the Strykers to the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area and will support the 25th Division as it trains in other places in the Pacific. Fully loaded, the Army says the trip from Pearl Harbor to PTA will take seven hours.

The Spearhead is one of four high-speed vessels being tested by the Pentagon. The Navy has two, including the 326-foot Swift, which also has a helicopter landing pad. The Swift, at 51 mph, is a bit faster than the Spearhead, which tops out at 46 mph.

During yesterday's demonstration, which preceded a two-hour water excursion on the open sea for local military and community leaders, the Army said it wants to eventually get 24 high-speed vehicles.

The Army said that to move the 25th Division's Stryker Brigade 400 miles by a high-speed vessel, like the Spearhead, would take 14 trips, each voyage taking 10 hours. Soldiers assigned to the Stryker unit could accompany each vessel.

That would be compared with 26 trips using the landing ships now used by the Army, but each vessel would take 40 hours of transit time and the soldiers would have to be moved separately.

Using the Air Force's C-17 transport cargo jets would be faster (one hour) but would mean 254 sorties. Hickam Air Force Base will establish a new squadron of C-17s in January to support the Strykers at Schofield Barracks.

The other capability of Spearhead is an intricate state-of-the-art digital, satellite battle command center, Hedeen said.

"Even while you are under way, you can be planning your missions and downloading the data to the equipment in the cargo bay."

Chief Warrant Officer Rebecca Brashears, Spearhead's skipper, added that another advantage of the twin-hull craft is that it can operate in shallow water.

The Army said that besides its combat capabilities, where it can transport up to 292 soldiers, its sister ship worked well during the Dec. 26 Indonesian tsunami disaster.

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