Navy christens newest high-speed transport

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The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Navy:

(WASHINGTON) — The Navy christened its newest high-speed transport vessel, the future USNS Guam (T-HST 1), during ceremony Saturday in Okinawa, Japan.

USNS Guam is named to honor the long-standing historical and military relationship between Guam and the United States. It will be the fourth ship to bear the name Guam.

"This ship honors the island of Guam and the important contributions Guamanians have made to our nation and our Navy and Marine Corps team," said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. "For decades to come, USNS Guam and its crew will carry on the Guamanian tradition of service by providing our commanders with much needed high-speed sealift mobility and agility."

Long before Guam joined the U.S. as a territory, the island had a military relationship with the United States. The long-standing historical and military relationship between Guam and the U.S. began in 1898 when the U.S. acquired the island from Spain as a result of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese captured Guam, and they occupied it until U.S. troops retook the island July 21, 1944, commemorated in Guam every year as "Liberation Day." Guam continues to host many critical U.S. military installations.

USNS Guam is an aluminum catamaran designed to be fast, flexible and maneuverable, even in austere port conditions, making the vessel ideal for transporting troops and equipment quickly. USNS Guam's 25,000-square-foot mission-bay areas can be quickly reconfigured for any cargo requirement, from supporting disaster relief to transporting troops and equipment.

The ship is preceded in service by the patrol gunboat USS Guam (PG 43), which was renamed Wake in 1941 and captured by the Japanese later that year, the Alaska-class large cruiser USS Guam (CB 2) in service 1944-1947, and the Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship USS Guam (LPH 9) in service 1965-1998.

USNS Guam is one of two former Hawaii fast ferries acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Administration in 2012. Its sister ship, formerly known as USNS Puerto Rico (HST 2), concluded service in December 2016 and its name was assigned to future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), a Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport. Both ship classes were designed by Austal. The former USNS Puerto Rico, originally Alakai and now called The Cat, operates as a fast ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia.

By Professional Mariner Staff