Thursday, May 11, 2006

Swift Provides Quick Delivery in North Persian Gulf

The U.S. Navy's only High-Speed Vessel, USS Swift (HSV 2), demonstrated its unique ability for rapid response and logistical support when it delivered a replacement rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) 270 nautical miles in less than 24 hours, April 26. Swift, currently leased from Australia and deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, was at sea in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Bahrain when it received a call to deliver the replacement RHIB to USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), which was supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf. Lake Champlain�s RHIB was on its way back to the ship after delivering security personnel and food to the Iraqi oil platforms when an aggressive storm hit and damaged the boat. With Lake Champlain�s other RHIB inoperable and awaiting repair, the closest replacement RHIB was in Bahrain.
USS Swift (HSV 2)
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser is conducting MSO in the North Persian Gulf, which is critical for the safety of the local Iraqi oil platforms. These platforms are vital assets to Iraq�s economy, so Lake Champlain needed a replacement RHIB immediately. "The RHIB was too big to be lifted by a Desert Hawk, [the only available helicopter]," said Cmdr. Tom Gerstner, deputy director of logistics at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain. "But we needed to get the RHIB and the spare part [to the North Persian Gulf] quickly." Swift was the only vessel with the speed and capability to deliver the RHIB in such a short time frame due to its wide array of features, such as its size, large mission deck, crane, vehicle ramp, maneuverability and its navigation system.Swift crew members loaded the boat on the high-speed vessel and departed Bahrain on the evening of April 26. By morning, it arrived at Lake Champlain�s location to make the delivery. "We were able to get the replacement RHIB to Lake Champlain without the ship even putting out a CASREP," said Capt. Rob Morrison, Swift's commanding officer, referring to the standard "casualty report" that units use to notify others that a piece of equipment is not working and sets the chain of events in motion to repair or replace it. "This was a great example of how, with Swift, our capacity for rapid reaction has accelerated beyond the speed of the planning process." "One of the keys to our quick reaction was our electronic navigation capability," he said."When NAVCENT asked us how quickly we could get to the NAG, we were able to lay out a track and give them an answer right away." Gerstner agreed and said the choice to use Swift for the delivery was based on its capabilities. "It's a real flexible [vessel]," he said. "It can be used for transportation, logistics, medical evacuation, command and control, and special operations. It only has an eight-foot draft, which means it can go closer into shore [than most ships]." MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

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