During INDO PACIFIC 2022 several contenders emerged for the Royal Australian Navy’s requirement for new Joint Support Ships (JSS). Under project SEA2200, Australia will domestically build two multipurpose auxiliary vessels, able to perform both sealift and replenishment operations, to replace HMAS Choules.
So far, the only company to go public with a bid is BMT, which are displaying its ELLIDA design at INDO PACIFIC 2022. The ELLIDA design, based on the same family of auxiliary craft as the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Tide class tankers, has a large roll-on roll-off (RoRo) cargo deck as well as provisions to conduct underway replenishment.
BMT declined to comment on where the vessels would be built if they won the contract, but Western Australia is likely to be the place where the ships will be built. BMT did tell Global Defense Corp, however, that there is currently no shipyard in Australia able to build ships of the needed size.
Previously, all of the Navy’s large vessels including the Supply class auxiliary oilers, and Canberra class LHDs have been constructed in overseas yards for that very reason.
The builder of the Supply and Canberra class vessels, Navantia, is also understood to be interested in the program. Navantia Australia, the group’s Australian subsidiary, will likely submit its indigenously designed JSS concept to SEA2200. Naval News previously covered the design in detail during PACIFIC 2019. The same concept was once again on display at INDO PACIFIC 2022.
Dutch company Damen is also understood to be interested in meeting the requirement with its own Joint Support Ship design. Like the other contenders, the Damen design is fitted with a well deck, expansive aviation facilities, and liquid and solid fuel storage as well as means to transfer while underway.
Contacted by Global Defense Corp for comments, an Australian Department of Defence spokesperson said:
As advised in the Force Structure Plan 2020 (FSP20), to further expand the ADF’s ability to support an increased presence in the region, Government’s plans include:
– Design, development and acquisition of two Australian-built multi-role sealift and replenishment vessels to replace HMAS Choules. This will greatly extend Navy’s ability to project and sustain the joint force.
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