Maersk consortium bidding on Navy ship
A U.S.-based arm of A.P. Moller-Maersk is leading a consortium that has submitted a design for a high-speed ship for the Navy.
The Maersk-led group is one of several vying to build the new shallow-draft Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) that would be used by both the Navy and Army to transport soldiers and military supplies.
Maersk Line Ltd. of Norfolk, Va., said it was attracted to the project because of the Navy's plans to order a ship “designed and constructed based on commercial classification standards.”
That “hits our sweet spot,” said Robert Bowers, who is program manager for Team MLL, the consortium that Maersk has put together with naval architects Gibbs and Cox and Derecktor Shipyards, which would build the aluminum vessels at its yard in Bridgeport, Conn.
One of the largest ship owners in the world, Maersk has extensive experience at building ships to commercial specifications and working with classification societies such as the American Bureau of Shipping. Bowers notes that Maersk also has extensive experience operating non-combatant ships for the Navy. It manages 30 ships for the Military Sealift Command, including multi-hull vessels like those it is proposing to build for the Navy.
Maersk is proposing to build a ship with a “semi-SWATH” design that it said combines “the high speed capabilities of a catamaran and the sea-keeping capabilities of a SWATH vessel.” SWATH is an acronym for 'small waterplane area twin hull,' and Maersk said its design for the Navy ships is based on one used by Stena Line for roll-on/roll-off passenger ferries it operates in Europe in the Irish, North and Baltic seas.
Bowers said the sea-keeping qualities of SWATH design could help reduce seasickness among troops as they are transported for combat.
Both Bowers and Lars Johnson of Derecktor said their companies' are focused on building ships for the Navy, not on potential use of similar designs for commercial use such as short sea cargo or freight ferries.
Chris Bollinger, executive vice president for Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La., said his company is also bidding to build the JHSV ships in a partnership with other companies, including the Australian company INCAT.
Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., has also built similar vessels, but could not be immediately reached to see if it is bidding on the JHSV program.
The Navy and Army are planning to build at least eight of the ships, which would be about 400 feet long, with a beam of 106 feet and a draft of not more than 15 feet so that it can call at shallow-draft ports. The ships will operate with a Navy crew of 41, not a commercial company. They are to have berths for up to 104 passengers and be able to accommodate 312 soldiers in airline style seats, and have a cargo deck of 20,000 square feet. Navy specs call for a ship able to travel at an average speed of up to 35 knots for 1,200 nautical miles.
The Navy is scheduled to come up with a short list of two or three proposals for further evaluation early next year. ' Chris Dupin