Traditionally, world militaries have relied mostly on airlift and sealift to deploy troops and equipment. Ocean travel has meant slow, deep-draft vessels. In this age of terrorism armies need to get troops and equipment into the fight quicker while navies look for a platform to conduct a variety of sea-based operations.
In 1999 the Royal Australian Navy chartered an Incat 86 metre vessel for use during the East Timor crisis. As HMAS Jervis Bay she completed over 100 trips between Darwin and Dili, transporting personnel and equipment as part of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). With average speeds of 40 knots, the craft completed the 900 nautical mile return trip from Darwin to east Timor in less than 24 hours.
During this time the vessel seized the attention of the US military, enabling them to witness the potential of high speed craft to perform various military roles.
As a result, in 2001 joint forces from the US military awarded Bollinger / Incat USA the charter contract of Incat 96 metre HSV X1 Joint Venture.
The success of Joint Venture led to more charter contracts. The 98m TSV-1X Spearhead was delivered to the US Army in September 2002, and HSV 2 Swift to the US Navy in August 2003.
All three vessels have displayed their excellence in humanitarian roles, including Swift’s major role in the Hurricane Katrina relief program, often responding on short notice to meet the needs of disaster relief efforts. The ships became the military benchmarks for future fast sealift acquisitions due to the high operational speed, long range deployment capabilities, combined with a high deadweight capacity.