U.S. 6th Fleet Preparations for Landing in Syria

USNS Spearhead, Ready for Missions in 6th Fleet, Arrives in Rota
ROTA, Spain (NNS) — U.S. Navy joint, high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) arrived in Rota, Spain, Jan. 27, the first port visit in its maiden deployment.

Spearhead’s deployment will support partnership-building and maritime security efforts in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of West Africa and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Spearhead – the first ship in the Navy’s planned class of 10 joint, high-speed vessels (JHSV) – will provide a forward-presence for emergent intra-theater transport needs and serve to enhance interoperability among Africa partners as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS). Started in 2007, APS is a spectrum of activities that develops skill sets and interoperability among regional partners.

"Spearhead’s vast array of capabilities makes it an ideal platform to operate in complex environments and perform a wide variety of missions," said Navy Capt. Marc Lederer, Spearhead’s mission commander, who is embarked for the deployment as part of a military headquarters element. "Spearhead’s speed and versatility allow it to be where it matters, when it matters."

As part of APS, Spearhead will participate in two U.S. Naval Forces Africa-facilitated maritime exercises, Obangame Express and Saharan Express, which take place in the Gulf of Guinea and off West Africa, respectively. During these exercises, the JHSV will display its rapid mobility and cargo carrying capacity by expeditiously transiting, with partners embarked, from one operational area to another.

"Africa Partnership Station is important because it emphasizes and strengthens the Navy’s already existing global partnerships," said Lederer. "Spearhead’s mission is collaborative and the planning and execution of this deployment will pay dividends toward future operational missions."

Spearhead, a 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran with a 20,000 square-foot mission bay area, can be reconfigured to allow it to adapt to a wide-range of operations and missions. Potential missions include carrying containerized portable hospitals for disaster relief to transporting tanks and troops.

"Spearhead is big, fast and capable," said Capt. Douglas Casavant, the civil service master of the 26-person civilian crew responsible for the ship’s operations. "This deployment will be a great demonstration of the capabilities of this class of ship."

While on deployment, Spearhead is scheduled to visit and interact with more than 20 nations and sail more than 15,000 miles, highlighting U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet’s commitment and emphasis to partnerships and operating forward.

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