Sunday, May 13, 2012

visit to the HSV2 - Swift

We were at the beach on Saturday. Usually there are 40+ big vessels anchoring outside of the port waiting for a berth to free up so seeing ships while we swim is non unusual by any means here.

However among the drifting ships there was one that was moving FAST! Now THAT was unusual!! We took a few pictures from the distance and decided to go back to the port - we had a pretty good guess where she would be docked at! Yes, you guessed it well - right behind us!!! :)

The Swift is the second from the right
We just got back in time to witness the arrival and were told that a possible tour would be available maybe sometime on Sunday before they leave...

Woman with a 50 cal. machine gun to greet us :)
This little US plane came from Ghana and was circling around and above the ship as they came in.

I rarely have the opportunity to watch my fav. Formula 1 race on TV so I was quite excited to do that today. 30 minutes before the start Darren came running to me with my camera - "there are 2 officers from the Swift on board and they are offering a tour right now!" Formula one ditched I went with him and about 20 others to board that ship. Yay!!! :)

This text is from wikipedia, but the officer who gave us the tour said pretty much the same thing:

"HSV-2 Swift is a non-commissioned, hybrid catamaran originally leased by the United States Navy as a mine countermeasures and sea basing test platform. She is now privately owned and operated by Sealift Inc. and chartered to the United States Navy Military Sealift Command. She is primarily used for fleet support and humanitarian partnership missions. The HSV stands for "High Speed Vessel", and its home port is Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel has two CONMAR crews that typically rotate every three months to keep the ship deployed eleven months per year. The minimum crew size is 35; 18 are military with the balance civilian, provided through American Maritime Officers and Seafarers International Union.

They couldn't use the normal ramp, which can be used for even tanks!
We walked up on a narrow gangway borrowed from the port.
2 of the 4 water jets that gives her this incredible speed.
our "welcome committee"
the empty cargo hold/deck with aluminum walls
Modified containers to be training classrooms where they train local military people
The ship was constructed by the Australian shipbuilder Incat in Hobart, Tasmania, and was leased to the U.S. Navy. She was the second catamaran the Navy leased to test new technologies and concepts associated with the Chief of Naval Operations's "Seapower 21" plan. The contract value for the first year was $21.7 million.

Swift is the fourth Incat-built high-speed wave piercing catamaran to enter military service, following behind HMAS Jervis Bay, U.S. Army Vessel (USAV) Theater Support Vessel Spearhead (TSV-X1) and HSV-X1 Joint Venture."

The Bridge with the Africa Mercy in front of us

What's wrong with this picture? Darren is controlling this VERY expensive ship with a small joystick in a Mercy Ships shirt
while the Navy officer is taking pictures...
Reka's new video game! :)
The Bridge
It is a wave-piercing, aluminum-hulled, commercial catamaran with military enhancements, such as a helicopter flight deck, strengthened vehicle deck, small boat and unmanned vehicle launch and recovery capability, and an enhanced communications suite. It features a new, modular design, which will allow the ship to be refitted to support any mission without requiring long shipyard periods. While from the front the vessels appear to look like a trimaran, the centre hull does not rest in the water and is not used for buoyancy. As a logistics vessel, it does not have water-tight compartments or weapons systems. Its propulsion is provided by directional water jets, so it doesn't have propellers or a rudder for steering and can maneuver in twelve feet of water."

Sleeping arrangements - triple bunk beds and 18 men / cabin...
The Doc and his "hospital" on board. Hehe, ours is a tad bit bigger and dare I say, better?!
Flight deck with capacity for Helicopters to land.
50 cal machine guns on each side. This ship is not equipped for attack, only for self defense,
however it's great to scare pirates away we were told!
They didn't let me carry this M4 :((((((

We asked repeatedly how fast she can go, but we never got a straight answer. Based on public information, she can sail with at least 50 knots and can travel around 1000 km/day if necessary. 

They were here for only 30 hours and as I type they are on their way to Congo, which will take them only 1 day to get there... :)

 They pulled out and were gone in 35 minutes! A fun Sunday afternoon on the Africa Mercy.

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