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Background  —  Joint Support Ship ( JSS ) Project  —  Now an AOR

Update: Feb 2013, The PBO argues that Ottawa should add a US-style contingency fund to JSS cost (raising expected costs from $2.6B to $$4.13B) for the completion of two AOR replacements. Higher costs are a factor of  building ships in Canada. But that is a cornerstone of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Stategy, the Harper Conservative's planned  template for all major military procurement programs. Update:  BMT's Aegir class is not  being considered. Navantia and ThyssenKrupp have received ACANs for feasibility studies to adapt their AOR designs to Canadian standards. As usual with DND, deciding on the extent of  Canadianization now holds up JSS design work.

Running Aground on Reality  –  Joint Support Ship Project transmogrifies into an AOR
Since the Afloat Logistics Sealift Capability Project began in the early 1990s,  Maritime Staff have been trying to dodge a truism –  multi-use ships must be big and, as a result, very expensive. The rebranded Joint Support Ship had  multiple roles lumped on to make JSS seem reasonable to the politicians.  Naval architects know that the only way to reduce cost is by the reducing hull size, number of  tasks, or both. And that's what happened with JSS. After 20 years planning for grandiose multi-use ships, DND was instructed to proceed with a direct replacement of aged CF Protecteur class AORs (Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment) or fleet tankers.

Joint Support Ship  as an  'Off-the-Shelf ' AOR
After a last-moment lunge at a Dutch JSS design, Maritime Staff concluded that acceptable military AOR hulls were the German  FGS  Typ 702 Berlin and the Spanish Cantabria classes. [1]  Both are designed to naval standards to jive with old  JSS biases against commercial standards. Naval spec ships, it is reasoned, have more redundancy and greater shock resistance. [2]  Such ships are also correspondingly more expensive. Perhaps then it will come as no surprise that the JSS Project budget of $2.6B proved inadequate to buy two naval standard AORs (plus one option). [3]

NSBS "... playing a starring role in their own desperate domestic scenario..."
But back to DND planners and commercial standards. During the JSS Project's ELMS (Engineering, Logistics and Management Support and Services) phase, consultants BMT Fleet Technology used its parent firm's Aegir AOR  [4] as a cost estimate comparison control. Now, with Berlin and Cantabria classes out of  the running for JSS, the sole remaining candidate is a mysterious 'domestic' offering from BMT. It's all but certain that this will be a variation on that Aegir AOR. A glance at the Aegir 18R's specs reveals modest capabilites compared with our  in- service AORs. But the BMT hull design is scaleable and this family includes a 26,000 DWT variant, the Aegir 26. Were that longer auxiliary oiler hull  matched with Aegir 18R  RAS rigs, the resulting AOR could carry fuel and dry stores roughly equivalent to the minimum requirements for the old, multi-use JSS. So is Aegir 26R DND's future JSS? Only time (and transparency) will tell.

Life on Mars: RN's Military Afloat Reach Sustainability
BMT will  be highly motivated.  Aegir 18 was aimed at the Royal Navy MARS Fleet Tanker but MARS [5] is delayed and  may be cut back. The Aegir is based on a commercial hull from Skipskonsulent AS, Norway with naval systems by BMT. As a bonus, Aegir was intended from the outset for licence-building  in local shipyards. So, no NSPS grief. Some sailors might bewail Aegir's commercial heritage but all other avenues have been explored. Otherwise, JSS AOR may go the way of  JSS multi-use.

CLASS Proctecteur AOR ALSC ('96-2000) [6] JSS (2006) FGS 720 Berlin 'Aegir 26R' AOR
Complement
(crew/air/troops)
365 total / (incl. air
det. of  45 ) / 0 pax
111 crew (combined)
mod. hosp./JTF HQ
165 crew /air det 76/
650 + 75 JTF HQ
60 crew / 30 air det. /
50 mod hosp./ 94 pax
175 crew (all ranks)
berths for 80 pax
Size (L x B x D) 172 / 23 / 10.1 m 193-200 / 32 /8.5 m 210 / 28 / 9.5 m 174 / 24 / 7.4 m 196.6 / 25 / 9.2 m
Speed  (sustained ) 20 knots 20-21 knots 20-22 knots 20 knots 18 knots
Range/speed 7,500 nm at 11.5 kts 10,800 nm at 15 kts 10,800 nm at 15 kts n/a [45 day endurance] 10,000 nm at 16 kts
Propulsion steam, 15,700 kW 2 x diesel 20,000 kW 2 x diesel 18,000 kW 2 x diesel 10,560 kW 2 x diesel 7,500 kW
Displacement (dwt) 26,389 tonnes 28-38,000 tonnes 28,000 t  (2006) [*] 20,240 tonnes 26,000 tonnes
Diesel/Av Fuel [7] 42,447 m3  [7] 24,070 m3 19,820-28,316 m3 27,014 m3 21,800 m3 [7]
Dry Stores 2,298 tonnes 2,000 tonnes [?] 2,000 tonnes [?] 4,500 tonnes 1,350 m2
Lane Metres 620 lm 1,950-2,500 lm 1,000-1,500 lm n/a n/a
TEU (20' ISO cont.) Heli deck option 200 x TEU 20-100 x TEU 84 x TEU 8-12 x TEU
RAS stations 2 RAS + jackstay 4 RAS 3 RAS + jackstay 2  RAS  (+ stern rig) 4  RAS (+ stern rig)
Helicopters 3 x 12 t  ( CH-124 ) 4 x 15 t  (MHP) 3-4 x 15 t  ( CH-148 ) 2 x 12-to-14 tonne 1 x 15 tonne
Flight deck 1 heli deck spot 2 heli deck spots 1 min, 2 desirable 1 heli deck spot 1 heli deck spot

[1] Both ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems  (representing the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft Typ 702 Berlin class AOR in Canada)  and Navantia SA (representing their BAC Cantabria class AOR in Canada) backed away from the revised Joint Support Ship bidding process.
[2] Some of  the economy of  modern commercial designs comes from automated systems. This also reduces crewing demands. The naval objection to such 'economies' has always been that small complements mean fewer crew to repair combat damage (especially fire-fighting). Conversions of  commerical  tankers to AOR are popular but naval standard redundancies must either be added or their absence accepted. The same would be true of  shock-absorbing equipment mounts or being able to maintain buoyancy in the aftermath of  mine blast effects.
[3] After a 20 year lifespan, it is not surprising that the JSS Project's budget  has jumped around. Back in 2000, while still the ALSC Project, the budget was set at $2.1B which was to buy 3 x  28,000 tonne multi-use ships by 2005  (already scaled-back from the originally planned 4 38,000 t ALSC ). By the time that the rebranded JSS Project was terminated in Aug 2008, $2.9B could only deliver 2-3 ships by 2012. When JSS was relaunched in July 2010, the budget was down to $2.6B but only expected to buy two non-sealift AORs plus an option on a third.
[4] Of  the four current members of  the Aegir family, only the Aegir 18R is an AOR. The others  ( Aegir 10, 18, and 26 )  are auxiliary oilers. As noted, Aegir is based on a commercial hull but then outfitted to naval standards – essentially the same as multi-use JSS less its sealift.
[5] The British Royal Navy's Military Afloat Reach Sustainability or  MARS  Project is intended to replace an existing AOR fleet based on various converted tankers (manned by civilians) with dedicated naval designs.  If selected,  BMT's Aegir 18 would become the MARS  FT (Fleet Oiler). Separated from these five oilers, replenishment will  be divided between two classes –  the Fleet Solid Support Ship optimized for RN Carrier Strike and Joint Sea-Based Logistics Ship for the Littoral Manoeuvre group.  Neither FSS nor JSBLS are relevant to Canada.
[6] In 1992, Multi-Role Support Vessel was the correct term. MSRV became Afloat Logistics and Sealift Capability in 1996 and  JSS in 2004.
[7] Deliverable liquids listed here includes marine diesel ('dieso') and  JP-5 aviation fuel ('AVCAT') but not potable water or lube oils.  Both fuels have been lumped  together because most AOR models can vary the proportions of  each type carried  (also affecting stores). As an example, an Aegir 18R or 26Rs would carry 12,000 or 20,000 m3 respectively of  'dieso', 1,800 m3 of JP-5, and a further 800 m3 of fresh water.