Canadian American Strategic Review



JSS Project

Mod Prop

DND 101

DND 101

ModProp Archive — Sealift:  Rotterdam/Galicia (Enforcer) Class LPD

Update: LPDs appear to be a dead issue for DND. Note though that Schelde's Enforcer family is also the basis for Dutch JSS and AORs.

The Enforcer:  Less is More for the Rotterdam/Galicia
A fixation on the American San Antonio class LPDs and a general envy of US equipment originally blinded DND to a more cost-effective alternative. An answer could be found across the Atlantic where, in a joint project, Spain and the Netherlands commissioned their own LPDs, the Rotterdam/Galicia class. This class may be less capable than the San Antonios but better suited to the Canadian defence budget. A Rotterdam/Galicia lifts a battlegroup of 550-600 troops [1] and has a well for LCM or LCUs.[2]

Another advantage for Rotterdam/Galicia class vessels is reduced crew requirements. While a San Antonio class LPD demands a complement of around 350,  HrMs Rotterdam and sister-ship Johan de Witt  need a crew of only crew of 124,  the Spanish Galicia and Castilia requiring only 115. The Canadian Navy already faces manning problems with its frigates and destroyers. Obviously, more automated ships like the Rotterdam/Galicia class are the future  –  especially for manpower-starved forces like the CF. Fortunately for Canada, this class of LPD is available commercially as part of Damen Schelde's Enforcer class  ( the British Bay class is also related ).

The Rotterdam/Galicias can carry four medium helicopters (CH-148 Cyclone) or six smaller heli- copters. [3] This embarked airgroup is the equal of that carried by larger San Antonio LPDs.  For protection, the Rotterdam/Galicias carry a pair of Close-In Weapon systems[4], 20mm Oerlikon guns (4 on the Rotterdam and 2 on the Galicia) as well as machineguns and weapons carried by the embarked battlegroup. In the CF,  the CIWS could be replaced with 20mm Phalanx  mounts, and 25mm M242 cannons (as used by the army) as substitutes for the Oerlikon guns. Completing close-in defence would be M2 machinegun positions (which could also mount new CASW). ESSM Sea Sparrows would not be fitted.

The Rotterdam/Galicia carry slightly less punch in their battlegroup and are slightly less flexible when it comes to landing that battlegroup on the beach. The ships are also slightly less well defended but they do carry an air group of equal capability on a far smaller platform. But crewsize makes the Rotterdam /Galicias a better fit for the CF – a three-ship fleet would require 360 less crew than if three San Antonios were bought. Buying new ships is always expensive initially, but Enforcer LPDs would be easier to support in the future – especially if DND also chose matching Enforcer-based AORs or even a 'Canadianized' version of the Dutch JSS.

[1] By comparison, the San Antonio class has capacity of  700 troops with a full-load displacement of 23,300t (whereas Rotterdam/Galicia displaces only 14,000t ). A major factor in the weight difference is the latter being designed to commercial standard, San Antonio to naval.
[2] To land a battlegroup, the Rotterdam/Galicia rely on either four LCM(8) or two, larger LCU landing craft. (San Antonio uses the more complicated  LCAC hovercraft.) Compared with LCM(8)s, the LCUs would more efficiently handle the CF LAVS and other larger vehicles.
[3] The ships were designed for four Sea Kings, or six AB212 / Lynx helicopters. The literature suggests that six NH90-sized aircraft could be carried. If CF medium-lift helicopters are bought, it's safe to assume that 6 x Blackhawks or 4 x large CH-148 Cyclones could be carried.
[4] Dutch ships carry 30mm Thales Goalkeeper CIWS, Spain uses the odd Oerlikon KAA-based 12-barrelled 20mm Bazán Merkora CIWS.