Incat vessels have been utilised in a range of military applications, and the commercial off the shelf technology can provide economic, efficient and effective commercial platforms that interest defence forces which understand the need for new ways to achieve results.
The Incat platform offers fast transit, fast turnaround in port, and the shallow draft and optional ramp arrangements can significantly increase access to austere ports. Flexibility and versatility in vehicle deck layout, plus optional helicopter decks and hangars increase mission options. The wide beam and other design aspects improve passenger comfort and crew accommodation, medical and other facilities can be installed for specific requirements. Minimal crewing numbers and reliable economic operation assist with ongoing budget considerations.
In 1999 the Royal Australian Navy chartered an Incat 86 metre vessel for use during the East Timor crisis. As HMAS Jervis Bay she completed over 100 trips between Darwin and Dili, transporting personnel and equipment. With average speeds of 40 knots, the craft completed the 900 nautical mile return trip from Darwin to East Timor in less than 24 hours.
During this time the vessel seized the attention of the US military, enabling them to witness the potential of high speed craft to perform various military roles. As a result, in 2001 joint forces from the US military awarded Bollinger / Incat USA the charter contract of Incat 96 metre HSV X1 Joint Venture.
The success of Joint Venture led to more charter contracts. The 98m TSV-1X Spearhead in 2002, and HSV 2 Swift in 2003.
All three vessels have displayed their excellence in humanitarian roles, including Swift’s major role in Hurricane Katrina, often responding on short notice to meet the needs of disaster relief efforts. The ships became the military benchmarks for future fast sealift acquisitions due to the high operational speed, long range deployment capabilities, combined with a high deadweight capacity.
The Japanese Defence Forces have also utilised Incat high-speed catamarans in relief operations.
Helo Deck: HSV 2 Swift features a flight deck with non-skid measures incorporated into the deck structure. Ridges normally facilitated by paint have been extruded into the top skin. A process of cutting across the ridges at regular intervals followed by shot blasting ensures high surface friction even when wet or greasy.
Eliminating constant painting cuts weight and eliminates costly maintenance and down-time.
Lighting: Landing a helicopter on the deck of a ship that is pitching and rolling is not an easy feat; add poor visibility or night time conditions to the equation and the right lighting is vital. Installing a military approved and proven helicopter deck lighting system provides the pilot with visual cues enabling safe helicopter operations at night and in poor visibility.
HSV 2 Swift is the first Incat High Speed Vessel to be fitted with a new innovative helicopter deck lighting system certified by the US Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
Shelter: The craft features a helicopter shelter located forward of the main helo flight deck, in the centre of the vessel. The shelter provides storage for two helicopters, CH 60 or equivalent. The floor uses the same extrusion as the main flight deck, incorporating an extruded non-skid ridge pattern and shot blast finish to the top surface.
The Helicopter Storage and Vehicle Deck apertures have been fitted with Industrial Weather Curtains providing a lightweight yet effective and manageable weather barrier. The weather curtain is resistant to salt water and meets the most stringent fire safety standards.
Tie Downs: Helo decks on Incat military vessels are fitted with duplex stainless steel tie downs, the first of their type in the world. Using duplex stainless steel eliminates the normal ongoing maintenance issues associated with corrosion, painting and wear of the standard mild steel type fittings.