The US Navy has awarded a contract to Austal for the acquisition of long-lead-time material for two additional joint high-speed vessels (JHSVs).

The 103m-long JHSV is specifically designed to be used by both the army and navy to transport troops and equipment in support of humanitarian relief efforts.

The vessels, which can reach speeds in excess of 35kt, allow rapid transit and deployment of conventional forces and their equipment.

Austal was awarded the initial contract to build the first JHSV in November 2008, and received contracts for an additional two vessels in January 2010. The three JHSVs are part of a ten-vessel programme worth around A$2bn (US$1.6bn).

The JHSV 1 Spearhead is being built at the company’s facility in Alabama, and is expected to be launched shortly.

Construction for the JHSV 2 is scheduled to begin in September, and the JHSV 3 will start in mid 2011.