Dutch Order Multi-Purpose Support ShipFeb 07, 2010 09:50 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
In January 2010, Damen Schelde announced a contract from the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation to build a 28,000t “Joint Logistic Support Ship” (JSS). The vessel is scheduled to launch in 2014 and replace the existing 16,900t HNLMS Zuiderkruis.
The Dutch want a very versatile ship that can resupply other warships, transport significant loads of army equipment and vehicles, act as a floating headquarters, take on hospital duties, and embark up to 6 helicopters. That level of versatility will come with costs. Canada’s ill-fated JSS program had similar or larger ambitions, but the 3-ship, C$ 2.9 billion program was ultimately suspended when contractors informed the government that they could not supply what Canada wanted at the prices demanded. Can the Netherlands be more successful?
- The Dutch JSS Ships
- Contracts & Key Events
The Dutch JSS Ships
The Dutch JSS design measures 205m/ 672’6″ long with 30m/ 98’5″ beam, and 28,000t total displacement, offering much more space compared to the 190m length, 20m beam, and 16,900t for HNLMS Zuiderkruis. Power will come from 5 diesel generators offering up to 25 MW, and speeds of up to 18 knots will be achieved using 2 main electric motors of 9 MW each, driving 2 fixed-pitch propeller shaftlines, 2 bow thruster pods, and 1 stern thruster pod.
In order to fulfill its main supply role, the Dutch JSS will have 2 Replenishment-At-Sea masts, an elevator and crane for up to 40 tonnes, a large (“2000 lanemeters”) vehicle storage or evacuee holding area with roll on/roll off (Ro-Ro) capability, and a “steel beach” stern design for cargo transfer via landing craft. A large helicopter deck can handle up to 2 CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and the hangar will be able to hold up to 6 NH90 or CH-47 Chinook helicopters with rotors folded, or 2 with rotors operational. HNLMS Zuiderkruis currently accommodates 2 smaller Lynx helicopters.
The JSS contract suggests that either (1) additional NH90 orders may be forthcoming; (2) leased helicopters will be used to fill the JSS, just as the USA uses leased AS330 Pumas for its T-AKE supply ships; or (3) the Dutch RNLAF will employ some of their Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks and/or Eurocopter AS532-U2 Cougar Mk2s on board JSS.
At present, Dutch NH90 orders involve 12 NH90 NFH naval anti-submarine helicopters, and 8 marinized NH90 TTH medium transports that could equip its LPDs and JSS ship. Specifying the Chinook for ship hangar storage is very unusual, as it is not marinized against the salt-water environment, and its height generally makes it unsuitable for naval storage. Diagrams provided in the Parliamentary briefing clearly show stowed Chinooks, however, and the CH-47 will remain the Netherlands’ main heavy-lift helicopter option into the foreseable future.
The vessel is expected to hold 150 crew and up to 150 additional residents, such as helicopter crew and medical teams. Automation is expected to help achieve these low totals. Unlike the Canadian JSS competition, the Dutch ship is not expected to offer any capabilities for ice-breaking, or reinforcements to cope with iced ocean operations.
Self-defense will include 2 of Thales Nederlands 30mm Goalkeeper gatling gun systems, for last-ditch missile defense and withering fire against boats and UAVs, 2 single-barrel 30mm remote weapon systems (RWS) that can be aimed and fired from stations within the ship, and 4 RWS with 12.7mm machine guns. This compares with HNLMS Zuiderkruis’ single Goalkeeper system and 2 manned 12.7mm stations. The new JSS ships are also expected to include “signature reduction measures” in radar and infrared, ballistic protection, blast resistant construction, redundant and shock resistant systems, a gas citadel, and extensive fire fighting systems.
The program’s last-reported budget is EUR 365.5 million, and the ship is due for delivery in 2014. The question will be whether the program can remain on budget and on-schedule, or whether the versatility requested will create design and testing challenges that will raise the final price, and result in late delivery.
Contracts and Key Events
Jan 18/10: Damen Schelde announces the JSS contract, and gives a scheduled launch date of 2014 but no cost information. Base construction will largely take place at Damen Shipyard Galati under supervision of DSNS. The next stage will take place at DSNS’ premises in Vlissingen, where the complete engineering, purchasing of material packages, final systems outfitting, commissioning and testing of the vessel and all of her systems will take place.
The list of key suppliers remains: Thales Nederland, Thales France, Rhode & Schwarz Nederland, and Finmeccanica subsidiary Oto Melara in Italy (for naval RWS systems, presumably).
Meanwhile, Canada is reportedly preparing to re-start its own JSS competition, and the Dutch design could create an additional contender. Weapon programs whose design breaks new ground add a lot of expense. If the Dutch government has effectively subsidized that R&D work for a ship that could meet Canada’s revised requirements, Damen Schelde may be able to offer the Canadians a lower risk option. The key questions would be whether Canada can accept the lack of ice-breaking capability; and whether it can wait until successful performance on the Dutch contract offers assurances that the design and equipment won’t require major changes, and costs won’t jump again. Damen Schelde | CTV News Canada.
Nov 3-6/09: The Dutch MvD offers a briefing to Parliament regarding the Joint Logistic Support Ship, and describes the project budget as EUR 365.5 million (about $538 million) – a 37.7% escalation from the initial 2005 figures of EUR 265 million. That cost increase breaks down as follows:
- EUR 25 million for an enlarged design.
- EUR 15 million for additional finishing work at Vlissingen. De Schelde has traditionally handled items like the upper structure and all military equipment, but Vlissingen appears to have been given this role for JSS. That adds costs, and also risk.
- EUR 46 million for inflation, based on general price and wage indices of the Central Bureau of Statistics and other statistical agencies from 2005 – 2009 (17.35% total), and validated by the Defense Audit Service.
- EUR 12 million for price increases specific to shipbuilding. This includes rises in commodity prices, but demand for diesel engines, electrical wiring and equipment are also up. Figures from the Association of Dutch Shipbuilding Industry (VNSI) show that prices in the Dutch shipbuilding market rose 25% from 2005 – 2009, then partially receded.
There are no contracts yet, but there are draft agreements for the platform, the Sewaco systems and other matters. These draft agreements contain provisions including penalty clauses. The final contract will stipulate which suppliers shall be involved, and subcontractors have not yet chosen yet, but key suppliers to date include Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania, Thales Nederland, Thales France, Rhode & Schwarz Nederland, and Finmeccanica subsidiary Oto Melara in Italy. See: MvD release [in Dutch] | MvD briefing [PDF, in Dutch] | Q&A [PDF, in Dutch].
- DID thanks our Benelux correspondents, including our friends at VNCcc, for translation assistance. To contact the reporter: joe, here at defenseindustrydaily.com.
- Dutch MvD – Bevoorraders. Statistics for the Hr. Ms. Zuiderkruis and Hr. Ms. Amsterdam.
- DID – Canada’s C$ 2.9B “Joint Support Ship” Project Sinks
- New Zealand Navy – HMNZS Canterbury – L421. New Zealand has its own, smaller multi-role ship design, which combines transport and some minor patrol tasks. The vessel was built by Merwede Shipyard in the Netherlands, under subcontract to Tenix.