USAV Spearhead (TSV-1X): High Speed US Army Transport Ship


  1. Introduction
  2. About the Ship
  3. C4ISR Industry for Tasmania?

    See Also

  4. Update: USAV Spearhead In Kuwait, Hawaii, China
  5. Australian Defence Amphibious Ships Project
  6. Other Transport Technology
  7. Home

Strolling down from the central business district of Hobart during a break in a meeting I was startled to come around a corner and see tied up at the dock the US Army's high speed transport ship Spearhead (TSV-1X). The ship had been competed a few days before at the Incat shipyards (Hull 60), a few kilometres away and was preparing for departure. I snapped off a few photographs and here also are a few items about the vessel. The wharf is next to Salamanca Place, a popular tourist destination.


  1. The ship as seen from the city streets TSV-1X from city

  2. As seen from the adjacent wharf. TSV-1X

  3. The loading ramp. Note the large low visibility US Flag painted on the side. The ship is unpainted bright aluminium. TSV-1X ramp

  4. Stern of the ship showing the catamaran hull form. TSV-1X Stern

About the Ship

TSV-1X is similar in design to the Incat, ship which acted as a floating convention centre at the Sydney Olympics and the earlier HMAS Jervis Bay. Incat ship at Sydney Olympics

USAV TSV-1X Spearhead has been completed at the Incat shipyard in Hobart to meet US Army requirements and delivered to owner Bollinger/Incat USA for charter to the US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM).

From: Incat Media Release, 19th November, 2002


From: Theater Support Vessel, G.B. Singh, Chief, Research & Development, PM, Force Projection, JLOTS R&D Symposium VI, 29-31 January 2001

High-speed sealift offers the opportunity to radically change the character of water transport in commerce and military operations. However, engineering and operational appreciation of the capabilities, limitations, and factors associated with new or emerging hull forms is not widely available. This presentation will describe the first in a series of evaluations and analysis of HSS platforms - the INCAT 046, a 91-meter wave piercing catamaran. The program, sponsored by the Center for the Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies, will document the instrumented performance of varying high-speed platform designs to broaden knowledge of HSS vessel capability.

PROGRESS TO DATE: The INCAT 046 evaluation and analysis was held in the Spring of 1998. It was the first in what will be a series of evaluations of existing and emerging HSS platforms. The characteristics of the INCAT 046 catamaran make its use, as currently designed and built, in support of long range military deployments problematic. However, the instrumented data collected during the evaluation provide insights into the potential this hull form has for the design of a larger size vessel. Similarly, the operational insights highlight considerations that will help determine the potential military utility of this hull form. A similar, but slightly smaller (86-meter) INCAT 045 (HMAS Jervis Bay) is in use by the Australian military between Darwin, Australia and Dili, East Timor.

FUTURE PLANS: Additional evaluations are planned but are on hold, pending CCDoTT direction. Future evaluations will most likely review other hull forms operating in scheduled commercial service.

From: Proceedings of the Marine Transportation System (MTS) Research and Development Coordination Conference, U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, 1

Installation of the command and control system for the ship is contracted to Conley & Associates, Inc. USA:



The Theatre Support Vessel (TSV-1X) is a new high-speed ferry entering the Army's watercraft fleet. A communications upgrade is required in order for this vessel to communicate adequately with all current systems Army wide and in Logistics/Joint Logistics Over-the- Shore (LOTS/JLOTS) Operations. This contract addrsses the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) requirements of the TSV-1X.

Delivery requirements under this contract will be multi-phases. Immediate Phase I requirements involve an update to the systems that they are adequate for sailing from Hobart, Australia on 15 November 2002. Upon sailing, Phase I efforts will continue with completion by or soon after arrival in the CENCOM AOR, at which time 1-week of hands-on experiential training will be provided.

Phase I requirements are included under Section C, and will include the following Operational Systems to be installed:
a) Harris PRC-150 High Frequency (HF) (1 each) -Frequency ranges, 2 MHz-30 MHz
-Range, 400 miles
-Voice, Secure/Non-secure

b) Harris VRC-103 (3 each) 1) All three will be capable of Very High Frequency (VHF)
- Range, 50 miles

2) All three will be capable of Ultra High Frequency (UHF)
- Frequencies ranges, 90 MHz-512 MHz
- Range, UHF LOS (50-miles)
- Voice, secure/non-secure

3) Two will be capable of Tactical Satellite Communications (TACSAT)
- DAMA Compliant
- Transmit 290-320 MHz
- Receive 240-270 MHz
- Secure voice at a minimum
- 1-each TACSAT radio will also be data compatible

c) Commercial Satellite Systems, International Maritime Satellite (INMARSAT) to provide:
- Secure voice (STE/STU)
- Non-secure voice
- Secure and non-secure Video Teleconferencing

d) Integraged Navigational Situational Awareness (INSA) system (C-Map) back-up system...

C-7 C4ISR ROOM. The C4ISR Room will consist of 1 each computer with NIPRNET capability, 1 each computer with SIPRNET capability, each computer capable of V-mail data with tactical radios, 1 each 3 draw safe capable of holding secret documents and Controlled Cryptographic Items (CCI), 1 each secure and non-secured fax/printer/scanner, 1 each secure / non-secure telephone, 2 each full function crew stations with speaker and H-250 handset and secure and non-secure video teleconferencing which is H-320 compatible, tactical radios and equipment as listed in section paragraph 4 above, the INMARSAT system as defined in paragraph 5 above and an Identification Friend or Foe System center around the APX-72 with the KIT-1C to be provided as GFE.

From: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intellegence, Survellance and Reconiecences (C4ISR), Order For Supplies or Services, TACOM, 27 September 2002, PIIN/SIIN DAAE07-02-D-T119/0001

A C4ISR Industry for Tasmania?

As a result of the part sale of Telstra, Tasmania received $40 million in funding for the Intelligent Island Program. This program is designed to ensure Tasmania's full participation in the information economy and presents a valuable opportunity to make a substantial contribution to developing an internationally IT&T industry in Tasmania.

From: Tasmanian Technology, Tasmanian State Department of Development, (undated)

Assuming the success of TSV-1X, funding under the Intelligent Island Program to build up local industry for the fit-out of command and control systems for future ships in Tasmania. The skills already available in Australia for the fit out of computers and telecommunications in offices can be adapted for ships. US warships, such as the USS Blue Ridge, have for several years made use of commercial off the shelf computer and telephone equipment, adapted for on-board use. HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla have been fitted out with similar command and control equipment in Australia.

Rack mounted workstation
Rack mounted workstation on USS Blue Ridge

Local innovations for shipboard fit out could use containerised low cost super computers based on the the Australian National University's Bunyip, and Collaborative Visualisation rooms similar to those being developed for the GrangeNet project.

ANU Bunyip SupercomputerBunyip super computer

Further Information