For the last few years, Canada and Holland have
both been developing an interesting variation on the LPD type amphibious ship.
This is the 27,000 ton Joint Support Ship (JSS). It looks like an LPD (it has a
helicopter deck aft, in addition to a well with some landing craft), but is
basically a combination
tanker/cargo/vehicle transport (roll on/roll off) ship, with communications
capabilities and space for a hundred or so staff personnel (for running a
humanitarian operation ashore) and a small hospital. The ship is built to
commercial, not military, standards. It carries some defensive weapons, but is
not really built for combat. The crew of about 200 is there to support
humanitarian or peacekeeping missions, but can also serve as a floating
headquarters for any small scale military operation. The Netherlands and Canada
are each planning to build one. The Canadian one is more expensive, because it
is built (with a stronger hull) to deal with sea ice (up to two feet thick). The
Canadian JSS would cost nearly $600 million each (for three), the Dutch one would
cost 10-20 percent less.