Canadian American Strategic Review



A Modest Proposal
Index and Intro

DND 101


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

The Enforcer:  Less is More for the Rotterdam/Galicia
A fixation on the American San Antonio class LPDs will deliver the same result as  DND’s  obsession with C-17s did for the strategic airlift requirement – getting bogged down by too big a solution.  The C-17 is a horse when it comes to airlift, but a budget monster for a country with limited defence resources. The San Antonio class could be budget monsters of similiar proportion. Each of these LPDs require a crew of around 350, but the navy already faces manning problems with its frigates and destroyers.

An answer could be found across the Atlantic where the Netherlands and Spain commissioned the Rotterdam/Galicia class  (or Enforcer for export) LPDs. These ships are less capable than the San Antonio class, but better fitted to the Canadian defence budget. Smaller than the San Antonio class by almost 10,000 tons [1] , the Rotterdam/Galicia still lift a battlegroup of 550-to-600 troops  (compared to a San Antonio’s capacity of  700 troops). To land the battlegroup, the Rotterdam/Galicia ships would rely on more conventional means – using either four LCM(8) or a pair of the larger LCU landing craft [2] instead of the more complicated USN LCAC hovercrafts.

The Rotterdam/Galicias can carry four medium helicopters ( H-92 or EH-101 ) 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. However it is the smaller crewsize that makes the Rotterdam /Galicia a better fit for the CF –  a three-ship fleet would require 360 less crew than if three San Antonios were bought. While buying new ships is more expensive initially, Rotterdam/ Galicia class would be easier to support in the future, providing smaller, more affordable LPDs, but still allowing the CF to self-deploy.

[1] Full load displacement for the San Antonio class is 23,300t, for the Rotterdam/Galicia, 14,000t (slightly less for smaller Enforcer types)
[2] While more LCM(8)s can be carried, the larger LCU would handle the army’s LAVS and other larger vehicles in a more efficient manner.
[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 is safe to assume that  6  Blackhawks or 4  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.