Members from U.S. 4th Fleet and Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) were onboard Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) from 5-12 June executing a multi-faceted experiment examining the JHSV’s ability to conduct alternate missions.
The main goal for the experimentation campaign, co-developed by the Navy’s Fleet Experimentation (FLEX) program with and in support of 4th Fleet, is to inform updates to the JHSV’s concept of operations (CONOPs). The campaign will continue throughout Spearhead’s maiden deployment. The FLEX program, managed by NWDC on behalf of U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet, is about delivering tangible products to the warfighter, specifically by assisting the Navy in integrating new and versatile assets into the Fleet.
“Experimentation initiatives that are linked to our operational mission are exactly how we want to continue to support greater DoD efforts,” said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “The SOUTHCOM theater is particularly conducive to innovation and experimentation, as initiatives can immediately be used in support of real-world operations. In these austere times of reduced resources and assets, we need to gain as much efficiencies as possible; experimentation is one way to achieve that. U.S. 4th Fleet is the Theater of Innovation.”
The experiments conducted included the first launch and recovery of the BAT Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) off of a naval vessel, the initial launch of the PUMA UAS off of a JHSV in this theater, and the maiden launch and tether of the Aerostat off of a JHSV. These technology enablers would enhance JHSV’s ability to perform several additional missions, including Counter Illicit Trafficking.
“We had a very successful experimentation period with NWDC,” said Capt. Sam Hancock, mission commander for Southern Partnership Station Joint High Speed Vessel 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14). “We now look forward to continuing the development of capabilities by employing these technologies from Spearhead.”
All experiment objectives were met and NWDC is in the process of analyzing the data to complete a preliminary assessment.
“We attribute this success to our strong partnership with 4th Fleet and the focused teamwork of the military detachment and civilian mariners while underway,” said Lt. Allison Withers, NWDC Experimentation lead afloat.
4th Fleet and NWDC will return for a second experimentation phase in September.
Press Release, July 07, 2014; Image: Wikimedia