JHSV Program Manager, Austal USA
Please provide a brief professional history:
I have more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of the planning and production of a wide variety of aluminum high speed vessels ranging in length from 26m to 107m. I have been employed by Austal since age 16 and completed a four year apprenticeship as a Shipwright before progressing into supervision and management of production staff and then program management. Along with experience with 30-60m passenger catamarans and commercial dinner cruise vessels and crew boats I also was actively involved with the construction of the 101m WestPac Express and the two Hawaii Superferries – the largest high-speed vessels built in the United States to date – which were each more than 100m long.
During my tenure with Austal, and in addition to vessel construction and program management roles I have planned and managed successful vessel service, warranty, and repairs worldwide, including the coordination of labor, materials and equipment.
Through experience with the construction and program management of the very successful Hawaii Superferry Program
How did you come to be the JHSV Program Manager at Austal USA?
How has your work on JHSV differed from other projects in your career?With all of my past experience in the industry being commercial-based the difference is mainly seen in dealing with a Navy program and the associated requirements driven by being a Navy program
Please provide a brief overview of the JHSV program.Similar to the Austal-built “WestPac Express” operated by the U.S. Marines for the past nine years, but with the addition of a flight deck for helos, the 103-m 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.
As of September 15, 2010 – Vessel 1 construction started in December of 2009 after completion of the design phase of the program. Currently 7 modules have been erected in the assembly bay and 26 of 42 total modules are currently under construction at our site. The modules currently under construction within the MMF facility include the mission bay and superstructure assemblies, main engine rooms, bridge and jet rooms. Vessel 1 is on schedule to be launched in June of 2011 and deliver in December of 2011. Vessel 2 started construction on Sept 13, 2010, as scheduled with the cutting of the generator room hull structure.
What is the current progress on JHSV 1?
As with any first-of-class vessel, the challenges lie with understanding the vessel requirements and the customer. Since award we have been able to maintain a very positive relationship with the Navy. Communication is key in the success of a program and ensuring both the customer and the contractor understand each other’s needs and the contract requirements ensures successful execution.
In your estimation, on any first-off ship construction project, what are the greatest challenges?
With the growth required by Austal USA to support this program, the challenges have been with successful expansion of our plant and the recruitment of personnel to complete the work scope. We have been very successful in both of these areas, with the new MMF being completed to schedule in advance of construction start and our team of human resources personnel being able to successfully recruit skilled labor to plan and ahead of our needs.
What have been the biggest challenge (s) in building the first JHSV, to date, and how have these challenges been overcome by Austal/USN?
We have worked very hard to maintain relationships with our customer and along with this we have a very experienced management team and skilled workforce in place to execute the program.
What, unique to Austal, has helped to ensure the ultimate success of this project, in your estimation?
What is the status of the JHSV series?Spearhead (JHSV 1) is under construction and on schedule for launch in June 2011 and delivery in December 2011. Construction on Vigilant (JHSV 2) was underway as of September 13, 2010. Austal has been awarded the construction contract for JHSV 3 and the contract to order long lead time materials on JHSV 4 and JHSV 5.
JHSV 2: Austal Starts ConstructionLess than one year after beginning fabrication of Spearhead (JHSV 1), Austal has commenced construction on Vigilant (JHSV 2), the second of up to ten 103-m Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). Austal was selected as prime contractor in November 2008 to design and build the first JHSV, with options for nine additional vessels expected to be exercised between FY09 and FY13. Since then, Austal has received construction contracts for JHSV 1, JHSV 2, and JHSV 3 and Long Lead Time Material contracts for JHSV 4 and JHSV 5.
The 103-m JHSV will provide rapid intra-theater deployment/transportation of personnel, equipment and supplies. The vessel will support military logistics, sustainment and humanitarian relief operations and will be capable of speeds up to 43 knots.
"The start of JHSV 2 represents the first Navy/MSC ship and the start of serial production,” U.S. Navy Program Manager, Capt. George Sutton said. “Serial production is the key to program stability, affordability and efficiency for the shipbuilder and the taxpayer."
“Since the beginning of the year, Austal has added over 800 employees to our staff of shipbuilding professionals,” Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer, Joe Rella, commented. “Our workforce is well positioned to start construction on this second JHSV.”
The Austal JHSV will transport medium-size operational units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to provide troop transport for an infantry battalion, allowing units to transit long distances while maintaining unit integrity. The vessel also supports helicopter operations and has a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter which enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries. A shallow draft (under 4 meters) will further enhance theater port access.
The Austal JHSV team includes platform systems engineering agent General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems who is responsible for the design, integration and test of the ship’s mission systems, including internal and external communications, electronic navigation, and aviation and armament systems.