For two years, the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command has been studying the use of foreign-built high-speed vessels (HSVs) to support SEAL teams and other special operations forces (SOFs). Consequently, Navy representatives expect the experimental littoral support craft (LSC)-designated LSC (X) or X-Craft-to fill a long-standing void in maritime special operations force capabilities. (The LSC is not to be confused with the littoral combat ship [LCS], which is a separate program.)
The Army and Marine Corps are eying two LSC-type vessels: the Joint Venture (HSV-X1) and Swift (HSV-2). In 2001, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Naval Warfare Development Command, and Marine Corps Combat Development Command, in partnership with the Army, signed a lease for the high-speed wave-piercing catamaran Joint Venture. Thereafter, Bollinger teamed with Incat to develop the Swift.
Bollinger-Incat's 98-meter wave-piercing Swift often is mistakenly considered to be the first high-speed vessel designed for the Navy from the keel up. Actually, ONR has spearheaded development of the LSC since 1996, and the craft is scheduled for launch this month.