High-Speed Vessel Swift: fast, flexible warfighting support

U.S. merchant mariners have always been ready where it matters, when it matters. Today they continue that proud tradition by operating forward in support of our Navy’s warfighters. National Maritime Day is May 22 and this week, we’re celebrating the thousands of civilian mariners who support our freedom as part of YOUR Navy’s Military Sealift Command. These men and women are vital to our readiness, truly making our Navy ready wherever and whenever called upon.

“The high-speed vessel Swift mission is not only pushing the envelope on what we can do with this ship but will have a great impact on how the joint high-speed vessel and littoral combat ship will be employed in the future. Our shipmates on Swift are well focused on executing this mission flawlessly.” Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet

High-Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) is a MSC-chartered, non-combatant vessel operated by 17 contract mariners. During humanitarian missions and forward operations, including current support to Southern Partnership Station 2013, the contract mariners aboard Swift provide invaluable skills and expertise – they maneuver and operate the ship making the mission possible by transporting the crew and cargo safely from one destination to the next.

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Swift is currently the ONLY Navy vessel participating in SPS, an annual exercise in the U.S. Fourth Fleet/ SOUTHCOM area of responsibility that provides the opportunity for joint operations between partner nations and joint civil military organizations. This mission includes personnel from our U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force who work alongside the contract mariners representing MSC. During missions like SPS, Swift can carry a detachment of up to 100 service members from all DOD departments and other agencies as required.

Focused on strengthening existing regional partnerships and encouraging the establishment of new relationships through the exchange of maritime mission-focused knowledge and expertise, SPS ensures each participating country is capable of improving their maritime security in the region. It’s also designed to strengthen cooperative partnerships in support of our national security and maritime strategy in the SOUTHCOM AOR. Only by communicating and sharing professional expertise with our regional partners can we develop the relationships needed in the event of a crisis requiring a multinational effort, and Swift is the platform making this critical mission possible.

Just this past month, Swift completed a major milestone, testing the TIF-25K Aerostat (unmanned blimp) and a Puma unmanned aerial vehicle before it departed Key West, Fla.,  for Operation Martillo, a Countering Transnational Organized Crime mission in the SOUTHCOM AOR. Operation Martillo – Spanish for “hammer”- is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along  Central America and once again, Swift is the lead vessel supporting this major mission.

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Swift’s high speed, shallow draft, and cargo and passenger carrying capacities have enabled it to perform a variety of special missions, including previous support to Africa Partnership Station, high-speed logistics missions, tsunami relief in Sumatra, humanitarian assistance and subject matter expert exchanges. Additionally, Swift is equipped with a flight deck for helicopter operations, a stern ramp for vehicle drive-on and drive-off, and has airline style seating capacity for up to 305 passengers.

Following its support to SPS, Swift is scheduled for redelivery in late summer 2013 marking the end of its invaluable support to Navy warfighters worldwide.

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