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    Millinocket moving at a different speed

    Millinocket moving at a different speed

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner | 150520-N-WC566-314 PEARL HARBOR (May 20, 2015) A five-ton truck is offloaded from...... read more read more

    PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Floating on the far side of Pearl Harbor with its paintless exterior reflecting the Hawaiian sun is the USNS Millinocket (JHSV-3). This brand new vessel is the third of its Spearhead-class Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs) that were acquired by the U.S. Navy and operated by Military Sealift Command (MSC).

    The primary mission of Millinocket is fast inter-theater troop transport and Sea Basing, which means moving military personnel and their equipment from point A to point B quickly.

    Millinocket has a design speed of 35 knots, when loaded to 90 percent capacity. It’s 338 feet long, approximately 94 feet wide and it is a catamaran built entirely of aluminum. It is designed to transport up to 600 tons of military cargo, and has a large space with airline-style seating for 312 troops.

    The JSHV also includes a flight deck for helicopter operations as well as an offload ramp that is suitable for austere ports that are common in developing countries.
    JHSV’s bring a slew of new capabilities to the table. Speed, maneuverability and littoral capabilities are just some of its advantages.

    This new class of ship is left unpainted, giving it a unique look, and making the vessel more light-weight when compared to its steel counterparts. According to Ethan Van Antwerp, third officer on Millinocket, weight equates to speed and speed is key.

    “Speed is everything to us, the whole reason we were built,” said Van Antwerp. “The only way to achieve that is to lessen the weight or up the horsepower, and on a steel ship you [would] have to add a lot of horsepower. That said, we still have a lot of horsepower, more than a lot of big ships running around here, and we weigh a 10th of what they do.”

    Cory Holland, second officer, navigator and operations officer on the Millinocket, echoed Van Antwerp’s remarks.

    “It fills a gap for short distances between 1,000, and 2,000 miles,” said Holland. “Instead of having to use several aircrafts, we can load the same amount of gear as 10 aircrafts can on this ship and move at 35 knots inter-theater and I think that brings the biggest capability on board.”

    Along with speed, Millinocket’s littoral capabilities make it stand out from the crowd. With light tonnage and jet propulsion, the vessel is more maneuverable and agile than bigger steel ships, allowing it to move more freely in tight spaces. And with a max design draft of 14 feet, Millinocket can even go up rivers and places with shallow waters.

    “We would be able to go to austere ports or shallow water ports where there are humanitarian missions and stuff like that where they need water, food, Band-Aids etc.,” said Holland. “Instead of having to man a hospital ship which takes anywhere between 12 to 30 days, taking it two weeks to get online and another two weeks to get it over in the Pacific theater, we load a medical unit on board, water, equipment and a water purification system and we can be gone and be on station in two to five days instead of 30 days.”

    One of the ways the JHSV vessels have been utilized is sea basing. The idea around mobile sea basing is that a ship doesn’t have to pull into a port to do equipment transfer.

    “With the Mobile Landing Platforms (MLPs), we have a stern ramp so we can do any theater transport through the MLPs,” said Holland. “We can go to a port within 1,200 nautical miles and load company-size strength Marines or Army, all of their vehicles, gear and equipment, then transport that company at 35 knots to the MLP. That’s where the concept of sea basing comes in.”

    There are many design features of the Millinocket and other JHSV vessels that make them truly unique and set them apart from the mode.

    For one the ship has two hulls where most ships in the have single hull design, making it one of the only catamaran class ships in the Navy. They are driven completely by water jet and have no propellers, just four impellers. The ship also has a very high horsepower-to-weight ratio, 48,000 horsepower to 1,600 tons displaced to be specific.

    Also, according to Michael Mikulak, chief mate/first officer of Millinocket, these ships can accelerate, turn and stop a lot faster than most.

    “If you go all the way from full ahead to full astern, the ship will pull two and a half times the normal force of gravity in a stop, and I have never been on a ship that can do that before,” said Mikulak. “It’s very impressive to see what they call a ‘crash back’ (full ahead, to full astern). The ship reacts a lot faster than I expected it to and changed my perspective on maneuvering.”

    Mikulak added that he had been on ships where 12 knots is the max speed approaching the port and 2 knots all the way to the pier. With the Millinocket, it’s 20 knots in approaching and 10 or 12 knots to the pier.

    “It stops so quickly that it’s even little unnerving at first to see the ship turn that fast and just stop,” said Mikilak. “We like to joke that it is our 50,000 horsepower Jet Ski made of tissue paper, but it’s a pretty accurate description.”

    With all of its capabilities, the Millinocket manages to perform with a crew of a mere 25 personnel. It is billeted for 21, with a few augments, which is the minimum manning the Coast Guard allows on a civilian run vessel. Having a crew of this size has its advantages but it also means they have to wear a lot of hats.

    “I’ve actually really enjoyed working with a small crew,” said Mikulak. “Considering everybody has a clearly defined role and we are all expected to help in things that are not clearly defined, the crew is very cohesive and everybody does more than their fair share. It’s a motivated crew, and it’s nice to be around that kind of energy and that kind of personality.”

    The ship does have the capability of taking additional personnel to augment the mission, and are in talks of possible taking on more people.

    USNS Millinocket was delivered to MSC in March 2014 and joined the fleet in April 2015, after completing its testing phase.

    “At that time, between delivery and introduction to the fleet, it was all testing and trials,” said Holland. “We made it past our one year warranty period, past our first post shipyard availability and then the ship was ready for deployment.”

    Millinocket is currently on their first deployment, Pacific Partnership 2015. Now in its 10th iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, Pacific Partnership has provided critical infrastructure development to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.



    Date Taken: 05.28.2015
    Date Posted: 05.28.2015 21:42
    Story ID: 164868
    Location: PEARL HARBOR, HI, US 

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