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Joint Support Ship
Taktische Konzept Mehrzweckschiff (TKM)
Einsatz Truppenunterstützungsschiff (ETrUS)

Since the mid-1990s the German Navy worked on the acquisition of an expeditionary landing ships. Originally considered several proposals were received from the French DCN (from which subsequently grew the Mistral), but the basic version was developed in 1994 by German companies.

On 27 July 1992 the UN Secretary General reported that 4.5 million Somalis were malnourished, and 1 million children were in danger of imminent starvation. UN Security Council Resolution 767 authorized urgent military deployment to Somalia to protect the delivery of food supplies. On 23 July 1993, the first of 1700 German troops arrived in Somalia, a first since WWII. After Germany reportedly had trouble in 1994 with the withdrawal of its troops from UNISOM II in Somalia [though the exact nature of these problems is a bit unclear], the German Navy thought a new type of ship could prevent such problems in the future.

German Defense Minister Volker Rühe's new planning guidelines, issued on 12 July 1994 [along with the Cabinet decision of mid-March 1995], constituted the overall planing framework. On July 22, 1994, the German Defense Ministry issued new planning guidance drawn up by General Klaus Naumann, the Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces. The German Bundeswehr was to be reduced from 370,000 to 340,000 by 1996. This will include some 290,000 Main Defense Forces (MDF) and some 50,000 Crisis Reaction Forces (CRF). According to Klaus Naumann, the purpose of the CRF is to allow Germany to participate in both peacekeeping and crisis management missions to prevent and contain conflicts to keep wars away from German soil. The Crisis Reaction Forces was to include: Six light, mechanized, air-mobile and air-mechanized brigades with their combat support and logistics components; six air force combat squadrons, two mixed SAM wings, and three mixed air transport wings as well as helicopters for search and rescue missions. Two naval task forces of two to three frigates each with the corresponding mine warfare and naval air arm assets. The German navy was also have the capability to transport a small peacekeeping contingent—about one army battalion — and to serve as command headquarters for that unit. The precise breakdowns for the CRF are 37,000 for the army; 12,300 for the air forceand 4,300 for the navy.

General Naumann stated on 21 October 1994 that "... we wish to develop to a very limited degree some "from the sea" capabilities by the introduction of a platform for command and control, transport, suppport and medical functions..." ["German security policy and future tasks of the Bundeswehr" Defense and International Security, December 1994, p. 12.] Given its geographic position, Germany had a stronger interest than almost all of its key allies in insuring such regional stability. As General Klaus Naumann subsequently put it, Germany's participation in peacekeeping and crisis management operations offers "a chance to keep wars away from our territory." General Naumann made clear the high priority that the project should be encouraged; before the year 2000, the ship should be ready for use.

A tactical approach was written in a few weeks. MTG was aiming for a combined command, transport and hospital that should be used not only by the Navy, but also that the other branches of the Bundeswehr to deploy globally. The idea from MTG Marinetechnik GmbH [the company established by the German government as a center of excellence in 1966 to design German surface warships] was the Taktische Konzept Mehrzweckschiff (TKM - Tactical concept general-purpose ship), a 20,000t ship, 196 meters long. The ship would have had a range of 7,500 NM, room for 700 personnel from the army, ro-ro capability and room for 271 vehicles, 8 helicopters, 2 landing craft and a 70 bed hospital with 2 operating rooms.

The cost of the ship have been specified with 500 million elsewhere even with at least 620 million Deutschmark. For comparison it's interesting to know that HNLMS Rotterdam (12,750t) was 265 million Guilders (about 237 DMark). B + V came without delay to the starting blocks and reported interest in construction of multi-purpose vessel. Seemed not so bad, the chances of the Hamburg shipyard because it has the appropriate large dock capacity with dock Elbe 17, where the Nazis once had to build giant battleship.

The 1995 plan of the German armed forces to purchase a large Expeditionary Mehrzweckschiff [multi purpose carrier] caused a stir. In 1995 the plug was pulled by the politicians, mainly because of the huge cost of the ship. The immense costs sank the project for the time being back in the file drawers. This process quite clearly involved competing defence interests, i.e. the fear that the expenses for the giant ship would block other arms projects financing.

In any case, it fell on that the Chairman of the Defence Committee, the CSU members Dr. Klaus Rose, early March 1995 in a published article to argue publicly against the multi-purpose ship. Rose registered significant irritation, and the the CSU members represented "regional industry interests" - in other words: the interests of the Bavarian arms industry that would benefit little from the construction of a multi-purpose carrier. But the Lower Saxony CDU members Thomas Kossendey spoke out against the major projects due to the "displacement effects" in the military budget. Naval Inspector Hans Rudolf Boehmer made it clear that he would prefer to buy two other ships as a large multi purpose ship.

The project enjoyed high patronage until Minister of defence Ruehe declared that in light of significantly increasing resistance beginning May 1995, there was "no policy requirements for a decision" at the time. The project was stopped for the time being in May 1995 in particular, because in Bonn, those interested in other defence because of the high cost of the ship refused consent.

The navy, however, hadn't given up on the idea. In 1998 the Weizsäcker-commission was formed, with the intruction to give the goverment advice about the future of the German armed forces. This commission advised the acquisitionof a 'transport and deployment support ship'. This became the ETrUS (Einsatz Truppenunterstützungsschiff) project. The "Multi purpose carrier" project 702 class was a very large ship with a displacement of 18,000 tonnes. To the construction of the new group company (class 702) had B + V in a consortium with TNSW and HDW advertised. In this case the grouping Flensburg shipbuilding Lürssen / Kröger Werft would be awarded.

The program continued its development in a more moderate on the features draft DVKD ETrUS (Einsatz Truppenunterstützungsschiff), also known as the 707, but in 2003 it was removed from the Navy's plans, mainly because of costs. Most likely it would have been a further development of the Rotterdam / Galicia class.

The navy, however, was still not giving up and in 2007 news came that Joint Support Ships were to be included in the 2009 plan for the navy. This resulted in inclusion of these Joint Support Ships - most likely a LPD/LHD - in the Zielvorstellung Marine 2025+ (ZVM Navy Plan 2025+). However, a final decision was not expected before 2016. The German Army has shown little interest in all these concepts and without their consistent support the Navy, which is the smallest branch with much less financial support, will never get this off the ground.

In 2009 Germany developed a plan for the construction of Navy until 2025 (Flotte 2025 +), which provides for the construction of two Joint Support Ship (JSS) and two multipurpose ships dock Mehrzweckeinsatzschiffs (MZES). This is the latest to play the role of amphibious transports, floating bases and supply vessels. The UDC type JSS demands carrying not less than 800 men that German estimates say will require vessels of 27,000 to 30,000 tons. Alternatively, three JSS with a capacity for 400 people would have a full displacement of approximately 20,000 tonnes. The high cost of these projects for their implementation postponed until 2016.

Company Blohm + Voss (now consisting of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – TKMS) in the last decade initiative to develop and advance to the world market a series of concepts DVKD (and indeed even OFT) MRD150 / MHD150 / MHD200 (the figures mean the full displacement in hundreds of tons of) the original "poluavianosn" architecture. Version MHD150 is capable of transporting up to 776 million in dock landing has 2 boat LCAC LCM or 1 KVP and can provide permanent basing in hangar 11 helicopters NH90. The electricity installation provides up to 22 knots. This project proposes a number of Ships to customers (such as Portugal and SOUTH AFRICA), but no such orders.

Further development of this project was proposed by the draft modular multi-purpose ship TKMS MEK MESHD (Multi-role Helicopter Dock Expeditionary Support) – a kind of UDC, capable, in addition to addressing airborne targets also act as a transport and integrated supply. Full displacement achieves 21 000 tonnes, the internal volume of the ship are likely to vary, transforming the needs for helicopter hangars (with a maximum of 14 helicopters NH90) decks for transportation equipment and cargo, hospitals etc. to MEK MESHD Project as the basis for future German ships JSS.

The ZVM (Target Structure) 2025+ for the German Navy has by now been leaked, and a couple modifications to the above: MZES : will likely be somewhat larger than the current tenders. The ZVM looks at a small dock ship (think similar size Endurance-class LST) capable of deploying LCUs and MCM drones of similar size, and a small cargo capacity for supplying land forces. Alternative solutions for the same purpose, such as FloFlo transports and regular cargo ships with heavy-duty cranes will also be examined as an alternative. Helo deck and hangar are a must, as are UNREP facilities for supplying fleet units. MZES will also have to base either a EU BG (F)HQ (*-level command, for joint operations) or a EU MCC Afloat (**-level command, for naval operations). One of the primary purposes of a MZES would be in deploying and operating MCM equipment in the form of large minehunting/-sweeping drones (100+ tons ea) for a high-intensity conflict in forward deployment, while "regular" MCMV would be halved and relegated to stabilization ops. Four possible solutions were examined:

  1. two large LHDs of 27-30,000 ton displacement, capable of carrying and supporting at least 800 troops ("JSS 800");
  2. three LPD/LHD, of greater than 20,000 ton displacement, capable of carrying and supporting at least 400 troops ("JSS 400+");
  3. three LPD/LHD, of less than 20,000 ton displacment, capable of carrying 400 troops, but without supplies sufficient to to support them organically for 30 days, so the MZES would be used in addition ("JSS 400");
  4. no JSS, more MZES instead, as a limited solution.
In a standardized solution, the Navy would procuring 3 JSS 400 and 6 MZES. The MEKO MESHD as proposed would fit in the "JSS 400+" category, while the "JSS 400" would be more like an Enforcer-type LPD. Tankers : Might, in addition to being regular AOs, be carriers for additional modular equipment (containerized), and might receive a helo deck and other aviation facilities. Need for this within doctrine still being evaluated. If one looks over the numbers presented in the ZVM, it essentially proposes a significant enlargement in particular among the supply units; including rotation factors, there'd be a total of nine AO and AOR needed to fill the outline in the ZVM (4.5 each in theory by standard rotation factors for their intended taskforces). Frigates and corvettes would have to be pushed to at least 24, more like 26 (from 22 plan for 2020), most likely by a larger-than-replacement F123 successor order (6-8 instead of 4). There would also be 8 SSKs needed to fill the outline (+2 from 2020). This obviously represents a maximum approach that the navy will bargain for for its 2025+ fleet. There would be no marines in the sense of a navy unit, the Army will provide everything that goes on 'em (except for the immediate LCU crews, strandmasters etc), including heavy helos etc. JSS 400 (without +) is seen by the Navy as a minimal approach that minimizes the prospect of "overloading" the concept by the Army - i.e. to try to prevent what happened to ETruS.



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