Austal Holds Keel Laying Ceremony for Future USNS Fall River

Austal Holds Keel Laying Ceremony for Future USNS Fall River

The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the future USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) was held at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., May 20.

Mrs. Diane Patrick, the First Lady of Massachusetts and ship sponsor, served as the keel authenticator.

“The keel laying is a major milestone in bringing a ship to life,” said Capt. Stephen Mitchell, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast. “We’re especially honored to have Mrs. Diane Patrick with us today to verify that the keel has been truly and fairly laid.”

JHSV 4 is the fourth ship in the Joint High Speed Vessel program and started fabrication in May 2012. Although the keel laying was traditionally the first step in ship construction, today’s advanced modular shipbuilding allows fabrication of the ship to begin months earlier.

“With the completion of the keel laying ceremony, this ship is well on its way to join the Fleet in just over a year from now,” said Capt. Henry Stevens, the strategic and theater sealift program manager for PEO Ships. “JHSV 4 will benefit from increased efficiencies of modular shipbuilding and serial production, building on the success of previous ships in this highly versatile ship class.”

JHSV 4 is the second Navy ship named for Fall River, Massachusetts. The first, USS Fall River, was a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser commissioned in 1945 and used largely on training missions.

JHSVs will provide fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. Designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, these ships can support a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief, logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

The ships will be capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. They will be capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2).

Fall River is one of four JHSVs currently under construction at Austal and is scheduled to deliver in 2014.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.

Press Release, May 21, 2013; Image: Austal