In January 2010, Damen Schelde announced a contract from the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation to build a 28,000t “Joint Logistic Support Ship” (JSS), which will become the HNLMS Karel Doorman. The vessel is scheduled to launch in 2014, and will replace the retired 16,900t HNLMS Zuiderkruis.
The Dutch wanted 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 couldn’t supply what Canada wanted at the prices demanded. Can the Netherlands be more successful? So far, the answer is “yes”.