ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's first-in-class joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) departed Rota, Spain March 2, as the ship now sets sail to the waters off Africa to participate with Africa partners in a series of engagements and exercises.
Since departing her homeport in Virginia Beach, Va., Spearhead has traveled more than 9,000 nautical miles and made port visits to Rota, Spain and Souda Bay, Greece and participated in maritime security efforts in the Mediterranean region.
For the remainder of the ship's maiden deployment, Spearhead is slated to support partnership-building and maritime security efforts off of the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS).
APS, which began in 2007, leverages training and operational engagements to enable skill-sets and interoperability among regional partners through a continuum of efforts.
"We are looking forward to the next leg of this mission," said Navy Capt. Marc Lederer, Spearhead's mission commander. "We have a lot of important work to do off the coast of West Africa and we look forward to strengthening the existing relationships that the United States has with our partner nations."
As part of APS, Spearhead will participate in two U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa-facilitated maritime exercises Saharan Express and Obangame Express. During these exercises, Spearhead will work alongside partners in increasing maritime domain awareness and maritime security capabilities.
"We look forward to working with our partner nations, and sharing with them the capabilities of this versatile ship," said Capt. Douglas Casavant, the civil service master of the 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran.
With a rapidly reconfigurable 20,000 square-foot cargo stowage area, seating for more than 300 embarked personnel, and a top speed of 35 knots, Spearhead complements existing U.S. capabilities.
The versatile ship can perform a wide-range of missions from crisis response to humanitarian relief and the ship's high-speed capabilities enable it to be where it matters, when it matters and will compliment the U.S. Navy's destroyers and other assets currently assigned in theater.
Over the course of the ship's maiden 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.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.