Tuesday, January 8, 2008

X-Craft Sea Fighter FSF-1

Joan Conrow of KauaiEclectic http://kauaieclectic.blogspot.com/ has called my attention to the X-Craft design. This ship, the FSF-1 Sea Fighter, was built by Titan Corporation at the Nichols Brothers Boatyard at Freeland, Washington. It is similar to the fast ferry designs, although it is faster, smaller, and less expensive to build. The Navy and Coast Guard are involved with this ship. This ship has its political supporters, namely House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, as does Austal have its in the U.S.

The following are some useful links on the X-Craft Sea Fighter FSF-1:
http://www.navsource.org/archives/15/150101.htm http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=19463
http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=1200&ct=4 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/x-craft.htm http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/x-craft-pics.htm http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/x-craft-specs.htm

I saw a reference to the JHSV in an industry blog wondering why there weren't more of them budgeted. The blog writer thought the ships are relatively inexpensive to built but surmised they must be expensive to operate and that is why there aren't more of them being planned by the military, see http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/2008/01/hsv-swift-deploys-to-african.html. That blog writer's hunch is correct...these things guzzle fuel like nothing else out there. Most fast ferries and the JHSV have four diesel jet engines. This FSF-1 actually has 8 engines, so I am guessing it is even more expensive to operate and guzzles even more fuel, although it looks less expensive to build.

BTW, the biggest operational problem for the HSF is its fuel expense. It burns over 6000 gallons of marine diesel fuel each direction, over 12,000 gallons per round trip, and thusfar is not taking in enough revenue just to cover the expense of that alone. An idea I mentioned in my HI Superferry: Break Even Analysis is that HSF might be able to reduce its fuel expense by arranging to source its fuel at a subsidized rate from the Navy at Pearl Harbor. I dismissed it at the time because at Navy cost or slightly above cost would not provide significant savings to HSF. But, in light of these revelations about how important the JHSV and all developments surrounding it are to the Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and Marines plans, I would say that it may very well be possible for HSF to source fuel from the Navy at a subsidized rate below the Navy's cost which may provide some savings to HSF. It would be relatively easy for somebody on Oahu to find out where the HSF's fuel is coming from.

Aloha, Brad

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