At 321 feet, Swift is faster than most ships, with a top speed of almost 50 knots. The catamaran hulls draw only about 11 feet of water, making the ship ideal for missions in shallow coastal waters.
Swift slipped out of Naval Station Norfolk for a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean Feb. 10. Aboard were about 30 commercial enterprise and command representatives who explained a wide array of new systems that are or may be installed aboard Swift. Systems range from combat vehicles, small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles for targeting and reconnaissance, to unmanned submersible vehicles for mine hunting.
"There are two primary visions for this ship, said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Harris, the Ingleside-based crew's executive officer. One is Mine Warfare Command and Support, and the other has a special warfare/Marine expeditionary-type role. Thats where the two crews come in. The submarine community has proven that two crews has worked for many years, and well be putting it to the test here in the surface community. That allows a higher operating tempo for the ship.
Two 40-person crews are maintained, one stationed at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., the other at Naval Station Ingleside, Texas.
The ships systems feature many automated controls, including a docking system that enables Swift to tie up without the aid of tugs in winds of less than 50 knots.
Many Swift crew members were impressed with the ship's capabilites.
I was in awe over all the technology, said Interior Communications Technician 2nd Class (SW) Matthew Ferguson, Swift crew member. I like the fact you dont need to touch much in order for Swift to go, and that it doesnt require a huge crew.
This was a culture shock when I came on board, said Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF) Michael Lackrey, Swifts independent duty corpsman. I was so used to watertight hatches and basic military things. I love it here, though. The crew size is very small, so its easy to get to know everyone. You also have to work out of rate, to know a little bit of something in case someone gets hurt or sick. You have to step in and take over.
An aluminum, bead-blasted flight deck eliminates most of the non-skid paint products and recurring maintenance, and stainless steel tie-down fittings for aircraft are a first. Also, Swift is not painted the traditional haze gray, but she has been treated on the exterior with a blasting process that provides a haze gray appearance.
Swift deployed on its maiden voyage only 11 days after delivery Aug. 15, and provided support in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Swift is providing a platform for the Navy to explore concepts, capabilities and military utility associated with the Navys plans to build the Littoral Combat Ship. HSV is now testing modular technology, demonstrating endless possibilities for embarking payloads needed to accomplish missions for a variety of warfare areas. Swift fulfills the need for smaller, faster, reconfigurable, adaptable surface ships for the future Navy and provides the ability to fulfill a wide variety of missions anytime, anywhere.