Endurance 160 LHD
In late 2010 Singaporean naval yard Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) unveiled a new variant of its Endurance-class Landing Platform Dock (LPD). The new Endurance 160 design is a 14,500 ton warship with a full length flight deck. The length overall is 163.7 meters, with the flight deck around 146m long by 25.6m wide with five deck landing spots. The RSN had encountered the Italian Navy's 133-meter long San Giorgio-class LPDs in the Persian Gulf during Operation Blue Orchid 1 and came away impressed with the capabilities packed into the compact hull form.
Endurance 160 drawings show two deck elevators, one is sited forward on the starboard side and the other amidships close to the aft end of the island superstructure. But deck-edge lifts would allow out-size helos to maneuver into the hangar bay. United States Navy LPHs and the Spanish Navy helicopter carrier (which was derived from Admiral Zumwalt's Sea Control Ship design) have a stern deck elevator which allows rapid movement of helos from hangar to flight deck. The island is a blockhouse with a single mast and funnel and two levels, and a flight control station aft of the island.
The complement is quoted as 140 personnel, with another 150 for its air wing, with a troop capacity of 400 troops. The warship has a quoted top speed of 22 knots - five knots better than the quoted 17 kts top speed for the smaller Endurance 140. Range is stated to be "more than 7,000 nautical miles" when sailing at 15 kts. Gun armament options on the foc'sle and stern quarter are customer options for placing medium calibre guns and close-in weapon systems (CIWS). The weapon stations do not require deck penetration.
The design draws heavily upon the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) experience with its four 141-metre long Endurance-class tank landing ships (LST). It is unclear whether the Endurance 160 will offer bow doors, as on the 141-meter long Endurance 140 class. The 22 kts maximum speed of this class may exclude bow doors, which could weaken the forward end of the ship, although the Italian Navy's 133-meter long San Giorgio-class LPDs have bow doors and a 22 knot speed. It is also unclear whether the new Endurance variant would carry floating pontoons, strapped to the side of its hull, used to discharge vehicles and troops during logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) operations.
The Endurance 160 is designed to carry two Fast Craft Utility water-jet propelled landing craft and a pair of smaller FCEPs. It is likely that the landing craft complement will include the new drive-through design, which ST Marine designed specifically for LOTS operations involving main battle tanks, which could include but are not limited to Leopard 2-type MBTs. While the Endurance 140 cannot operate hovercraft, since the well dock is not heat-shielded from jet blasts, it remains to be seen whether the enlarged Endurance 160 with the full flight deck will have a protected well dock for hovercraft.
The Endurance 160 complement of landing craft and naval aviation assets in a small hull creates operational compromises. If the ship is meant to operate close inshore, close to the surf zone of a contested coastline so it can deploy landing craft expediently, the operational advantage of lurking farther offshore and hitting the zone of operations using the embarked air wing is lost.
The Endurance 160 does not appear to have sufficient hangar space for helicopters to be struck down for all-weather protection. It appears the air wing would be embarked to its area of operations for short duration missions before returning to base. In the case of a peacetime HADR mission, the vehicle deck would presumably not be filled with war material and some space would probably be reserved for helo maintenance.
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