January 23, 2010:
The Netherlands is building a 28,000 ton Joint Logistics Support Ship (JSS). This is a variation on the LPD type amphibious ship. 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. It carries some defensive weapons (two multibarrel 30mm anti-missile guns, two single barrel 30mm guns and four 12.7mm machine-guns, but is not really built for combat. The crew of 150 can also serve as a floating headquarters for any small scale military operation. Another 150 passengers can be carried, and these can be relief workers, support personnel for the six helicopters that can be carried, or marines.
The JSS will cost about a billion dollars, and replaces a smaller (17,000 ton), much less capable ship. Five years ago, Canada set out to build three similar ships, but abandoned the project when costs rose sharply. Canada is interested again, and is looking at the very similar Dutch ship as a model of how to get the JSS they want.
The concept of a multiuse support ship has been around for over a decade, and the Dutch Zuiderkruis has been functioning as such a support ship since the 1980. With increased interest in peacekeeping operations, more nations want some JSS capability.