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2004-2008 - Joint Support Ship (JSS) Capabilities

In April 2004 the Government of Canada decided to acquire three new 28,000 ton support ships for the Canadian Forces. This project was initiated to replace the Protecteur Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels. They were also to have the ability to transport a significant amount of land combat equipment, and transfer it to shore, giving the Canadian Forces a critical strategic sealift capability. Finally, the new vessels would be capable of supporting forces deployed ashore. On August 22, 2008 the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the Honorable Christian Paradis, announced the termination of the procurement process. The Crown determined that the proposals were not compliant with the basic terms of the Request for Proposals (RFP), as both bids were significantly over the established budget provisions.

On July 14, 2010 the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced the Government was moving forward with procurement of new Joint Support Ships (JSS). The revised program envisioned two 20,000 ton ships to perform replenishment at sea, but without the land combat sealift and power projection features of the original program.

The primary objective of the Joint Support Ship (JSS) project is to ensure that the Navy maintains its current level of logistics support to deployed task groups while ensuring that the CF has the strategic sealift capability it needs to deploy and sustain operations, and enhancing its capability for joint command and control of forces ashore.

The JSS will operate year round in waters of Canadian interest around the world. The ships must therefore be designed and built to operate across a broad spectrum of environmental conditions. From heavy seas in open ocean, to confined littoral waters, to industrialized harbors; from freezing artic conditions, to equatorial heat; the ships will face a broad spectrum of conditions.

The core capability requirement for the JSS is Naval Task Group missions (fuel, food, stores, medical and aviation services) and Joint Force missions. The Joint Force missions include support to forces ashore such as Joint Task Force headquarters, medical facilities, accommodations, and provisions.

The new support ships will be capable of refuelling and re-supplying other ships at sea, and of providing support for ship-borne helicopters - just as the existing vessels do now. But they will be capable of doing much more. Their ability to transport a significant amount of equipment, and transfer it to shore, will give the Canadian Forces a critical strategic sealift capability. In fact, taken together, the three new support ships will be able to deploy the 'lion's share' of the equipment of an army battle group to any port in the world. Finally, the new vessels will be capable of supporting forces deployed ashore with facilities for a joint force headquarters, a small hospital, and rest and recuperation facilities. All of this will be a significant improvement of the navy's current operational effectiveness.

These three capabilities - at-sea replenishment, strategic sealift and support of land-based forces - will make these new ships a transformational platform, one that will be highly effective across a wide range of operations at home and abroad. Inherent in the ship design will be an ability to be reconfigured rapidly. For example, the hangar, normally used for doing maintenance on aircraft, could be transformed to care for survivors of a disaster at sea or on shore.

The JSS updates and enhances the capabilities resident in the PROTECTEUR class replenishment ships. The enhancements include:

  • a. A reduction in crew size by 30% to 50%;
  • b. A double-hull around all fuel cargo tanks to comply with pending International Maritime Organization regulations;
  • c. An increase from three to four embarked maritime helicopters;
  • d. An increase from one flight deck operating spot from which to launch or land a helicopter to two spots; and
  • e. A speed increase from the current maximum continuous speed of 18 knots in a PROTECTEUR Class ship to a maximum continuous speed of 21 knots in a Joint Support Ship.

The JSS shall be capable of undertaking these combinations of operations fully and concurrently Naval Task Group Missions - Replenishment, Aviation and Medical, or Joint Force Missions - Sealift, Joint Force Headquarters, and Medical. The ship shall be designed to focus on either a Naval Task Group or a Joint Force mission. It is not intended to perform both tasks concurrently. That said, there is clearly an inherent capability to perform different subsets of the two mission types described. For example, a ship conducting a full sealift mission will still replenish liquids with other ships, but cannot replenish solids due to the cargo embarked.

The ship shall be capable of deploying for up to 180 consecutive days in support of either a Task Group Mission or a Joint Force Mission. It shall support the Task Group for up to 30 consecutive days of combat operations. It shall be capable of supporting forces ashore for up to 30 consecutive days.

The JSS shall transfer ship fuel (F76), aircraft fuel (F44), petroleum, oil, lubricants, provisions, spare parts, ammunition and water to other ships, day and night, by means of tension wire abeam Replenishment at Sea (RAS) systems. Two tension span systems will be fitted on each side of the ship for a total of four systems. The JSS shall be capable of replenishing two ships simultaneously, and shall be capable of receiving solids and liquids from other supply ships using a tensioned span system. The JSS shall also be able to transfer fuel to ships and submarines that do not have receiving gear for tension wire systems. Ship's boats and landing craft shall be replenished when the ship is alongside. The JSS shall be capable of vertical replenishment (VERTREP), which can be conducted concurrently with RAS operations.

The Joint Support Ships will maintain the core capabilities inherent in the Navy's current replenishment ships including:

  • The provision at sea of fuel, food, spare parts, and ammunition;
  • Modern medical and dental care facilities, including an operating room for urgently needed operations;
  • Repair facilities and technical expertise to keep aircraft and other equipment functioning; and
  • Basic self-defence.
They will also support Canadian Forces operations ashore through additional features, including:
  • Roll-on Roll-off (RO-RO) of cargo;
  • Lift-on Lift-off (LO-LO) of cargo;
  • The operation of three to four maritime helicopters (each ship);
  • Work and living space for additional personnel, over and above the standard crew of up to 165 people; and,
  • Capability to navigate in first-year arctic ice.
Replenishment ships such as the Joint Support Ship enable a Naval Task Group to remain at sea for up to six times longer than would be possible without these ships. This capability is critical to safeguard our domestic maritime security and sovereignty. With their added capacity to support troops ashore, they will also serve to reinforce Canada's global presence while supporting our nation's foreign policy objectives. Here are some highlights of what the Joint Support Ship will offer:
  • A covered multi-purpose deck space for vehicles and containers with space for additional containers on the upper decks. This will serve to reduce the reliance on chartered sealift.
  • The notional dimensions of the ship will be in the order of 200 metres in length, 26 metres in breadth and a displacement of 28,000 metric tonnes.
  • In addition to the interoperatibility with the Army and Air Force, being able to function as a Joint Task Force Headquarters is also important, as it may be impossible to establish a JTF HQ ashore in areas of conflict.
  • Inherent in the ship design will also be an ability to be rapidly reconfigured. The hangar, normally used for doing maintenance on aircraft, could be rapidly transformed to care for survivors of a disaster at sea or at shore.
  • The ship will also be configured with both active and passive self-defence systems and an ability to navigate in first-year arctic ice up to 0.7 metres thick.
The ship shall conduct liquid replenishment and operate its full complement of helicopters while carrying full internal sealift and with containers stored on the upper decks.

The JSS shall carry the Task Group's re-provisioning stores in ISO (TEU) containers. Munitions shall be carried in deep magazines. Solid transfers shall be made by using the RAS stations and by helicopter (VERTREP). The JSS will transfer heavier loads than is the current practice in line with the plans of other NATO navies. Warehousing and mechanical handling facilities will allow rapid transfer rates.

The ship shall carry four Cyclone helicopters in its hangar and shall conduct day and night helicopter operations under both visual meteorological and instrument meteorological conditions. It shall be capable of launching and recovering Cyclone helicopters while underway in top of Sea State 6. First line maintenance will be provided to the four Cyclone helicopters embarked and second line maintenance shall be provided for up to seven Cyclone helicopters embarked in the ships of the Naval Task Group. The ship shall be able to recover a ditched Cyclone Helicopter in Sea State 1 to the flight deck. Cyclone helicopters shall be launched and recovered during replenishment at sea operations.

The notional dimensions of the new support ships will be in the order of 200 meters in length, approximately 30 meters in breadth and a displacement of approximately 28,000 metric tonnes. These will be the largest ships ever designed and built, from the ground up, for the Canadian navy. The crew requirements for the new support ships will also be significantly reduced from those of our current AORs - which have a crew complement of 247. The new ships will be configured with both active and passive self-defence systems, and will have an ability to navigate in first-year ice up to 0.7 meters thick.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:35:19 ZULU