U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Mayor Bill Foster and other distinguished visitors from St. Petersburg joined Navy Chief of Information Rear Adm. John Kirby, Capt. Sam Norton, commander, MSC Atlantic, and Capt. Doug Casavant, the ship’s civil service master, during an arrival ceremony in honor of the ship, its crew and the Navy.
The three-day port call is primarily a working visit and an opportunity for senior officials and military personnel from U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command to visit the ship and receive briefings on Spearhead’s capabilities.
“I am pleased that the USNS Spearhead, the first in a new class of ships, will make its first official port visit in St. Petersburg this weekend,” said Young, the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “The Spearhead affords our nation’s military leadership a new ability to quickly transport troops, equipment and supplies where they are most needed, anywhere in the world,” he said.
“St. Petersburg is known as a city of firsts with an eye to the future and by hosting this new ship’s first official port visit, we demonstrate our support of the military and its commitment to safeguarding our country now and into the future,” said Foster.
Spearhead is designed for rapid, intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment. The ship is a 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran designed for speed, flexibility and maneuverability. The reconfigurable 20,000-square-foot mission bay area can be quickly adapted to support a number of different missions – anything from carrying containerized portable hospitals to support disaster relief to transporting tanks and troops. Spearhead’s crew of 22 civil service mariners works for MSC which operates, navigates and maintains the ship.
“St. Petersburg is Spearhead’s first official port visit and it’s an honor to be here as the master of this great ship. We have a highly trained, experienced and capable crew to operate and navigate her, and we’re excited to be part of MSC and the Navy’s future,” said Casavant.
Following its brief stop in St. Petersburg, Spearhead will transit to Mayport, Fla. for a port visit there before arriving at its final layberth, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va., in mid-February.
JHSVs are capable of transporting approximately 600 tons of military troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and are designed to operate in austere ports and waterways, providing added flexibility to U.S. warfighters worldwide. MSC owns and operates Spearhead, along with the nine other JHSVs that are currently under contract.
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, U.S. merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.