November 4th 2015

MSC Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) USNS CHOCTAW COUNTY is the first ship of its kind to join the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility includes the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The CHOCTAW COUNTY will be lay-berthed in the Mina Salman port in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Its licensed deck officers are represented by the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG).

In September 2015, the Navy decided to re-designate the JHSV class of ships as Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessels. These 338-foot aluminum catamarans are designed for speed, flexibility and maneuverability. They are faster and much cheaper to operate than traditional Navy warships. They can maneuver in only 13 feet of water, which allows them to navigate closer to shore. The vessels are intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Army.

The EPFs are intended for rapid intra-theater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. They can reach speeds of 35–45 knots (65–83 km/h; 40–52 mph) and will allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces, as well as equipment and supplies. They are adapted from a commercial ferry design, with a flight deck for helicopters above the vehicle deck.

The new addition to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet “will be a groundbreaker in this type of environment,” said CHOCTAW COUNTY Master and MM&P member Roger Gwinn. “I know that the ship will contribute positively to every task it receives.”