Thailand’s New LPD: Singapore’s ST Wins Contract for Ship, Landing Craft
In November 2008, ST Engineering subsidiary Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), reported that they had “secured a contract in a basket of currencies amounting to about S$200m” (about $135 million) to design and build a 141 meter Landing Platform Dock (LPD) amphibious assault ship, along with ancillary vessels: a pair of 23m Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) that can transport heavy equipment like tanks from the ship’s well deck to the shore, and a pair of smaller 13m Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP) for people and small wheeled vehicles. That customer turned out to be the Thai Navy, which floated an RFP for an LPD-type ship in April 2008.
ST Eng lists their ship design as an “LST” (Landing Ship Tank) on their site, but the Endurance Class does not beach itself. The label LPD is more appropriate for these 6,500 – 8,000 ton vessels, which cost less than 1/10th as much as the USA’s 25,000 ton LPD-17 Class. Now, the ship has been delivered:
Thailand’s Endurance Class LPD
Amphibious ships have important non-military uses in this region, where monsoon floods and tsunamis frequently produce disaster situations that require their ability to arrive by sea instead of by submerged or destroyed roads, to land supplies and bring people from the near-shore area, and to carry vehicles and helicopters to help inland. Like most LPDs, the ship includes onboard medical and dental facilities.
Compared to other LPDs, Singapore’s Endurance Class packs an offensive punch. A 76mm Oto Melara naval gun is a lot more than most other LPDs carry. It can be used against ships or aerial threats, and effectively gives the ships a secondary role as patrol vessels. A pair of remotely-operated 30mm guns give them added firepower against small boats and slow aerial targets. They’re a bit light on air defense, though, with only a pair of Simbad twin-launchers for MBDA’s very short range Mistral missiles. That’s normal for a small amphibious ship like this, and the entire array actually stacks up well against much larger ships like France’s Mistral Class (21,300t) and Australia’s Canberra Class (27,500t) LHDs.
Thailand’s LPD will use Terma’s C-Flex combat and C2 system. It’s tied to Terma’s SCANTER 4100 air and surface surveillance radar, to Terma’s C-Fire EO Director for day/night camera surveillance and laser rangefinding, and to a IFF(Identification, Friend or Foe) system. The system can engage a surface and an air target simultaneously, but under limited circumstances: it uses the radar for tracking the surface target, and the EO Director for tracking the air target. The Mistral missiles will provide some independent capability there.
The ship’s crew will be about 150, and it can reportedly carry up to 360 troops, 18 tanks, 20 vehicles, and bulk cargo. A pair of 25t deck cranes help with loading and unloading, and vehicles up to 60 short tons can be driven off through a bow door or ramp. If port facilities aren’t available of sufficient, offloading will use the well deck’s 2 LCM/FCU 23m and 4 LVCP/FCEU 13m landing craft. That well deck area could also be used to launch fast boats and boarding parties, depending on the mission. Thailand’s order of just 2 FCEUs suggest that RHIBs or other fast boats will be part of the ship’s normal complement.
Contracts & Key Events
“It will be deployed during the US-Thai Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) exercise next month and on a peace-keeping mission together with [the Chinese-built] HTMS Similan to tackle Somali pirates [in 2013]… According to Adm Kanat, HTMS Ang Thong is also suitable for rescue missions because it has a sick bay, a minor operation room and a dentist room… The navy needs more landing ships, of this type he said. It has decommissioned five old auxiliary vessels and HTMS Ang Thong is the only replacement so far. The navy plans to order more ships of the same type.”
March 20/11: Launch. The (now offline) YouTube video of the HTMS Ang Thong launch had this text caption:
“On 20th March 2011, Royal Thai Navy’s LPD-791 has already released to sea at ST Marine Singapore dockyard. This vessel has displacement around 7600 tons. RTN would like to use this vessel with AAV and MH-60S in marine mission. This LPD can transport 19 AAVs or 15 Trucks/Trailers , 2 LCVP and 2-4 SH-60B/MH-60S or 1 CH-47.”
Note that launch is not the same as delivery, which requires more integration and then acceptance trials.
Sept 10/09: Combat suite. Terma announces that its C-series combat system and combat management system (C-Flex, C-Search and C-Fire) will arm Thailand’s new LPD.
C-Flex is the combat management system and central node for the C-series. C-Search is a radar and sensor suite, which will be tied to a Terma SCANTER 4100 air and surface surveillance radar, and an IFF(Identification, Friend or Foe) system. C-Fire is the fire control system, which will handle the ship’s 76 mm main gun and 2 x 30 mm remotely operated guns. C-Fire’s Electro Optical (EO) Director has an inbuilt thermal imager, a TV camera, and an eye-safe laser range finder.
Nov 11/08: Order. Singapore’s ST Engineering announces the contract. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid 2009, and delivery is planned for in the second half of 2012.