MTA2020 and its Swedish connection – Epilogue: NLMS Karel Doorman

The following is an unplanned epilogue to my three-part series, discussing the possibilities of Finnish-Swedish cooperation in the field of new support ships. Earlier parts are found here: Part one, part two and part three. As mentioned, I have no inside information on the MTA2020 or L10, but everything is based on open sources.

From somewhere under my radar, a completly new (admittedly somewhat far-fetched) alternative suddenly came to my notice. The Dutch are building a new 28 000 t Joint Logistic Support Ship, named HNLMS Karel Doorman in a ceremony earlier this month. The ship is a serious player amongst support ships, not only having two RAS-stations, but also having a flight deck capable of holding up to six NH90-sized choppers (or two CH-47 Chinooks) and stations for two LCVP landing crafts. While the ship is way larger than anything either the Finnish or the Swedish navies hopes to purchase, it is apparently also too big for the Dutch, who last year declared that budget cuts forced the navy to sell it before commissioning. The plans were quickly reversed, but the service is currently looking for possible partners.

One possibility, if the ship is seriously up for hire, would be to study the possibility of either jointly (in a show of the much talked about Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation) or separetly leasing the ship for training cruises and/or operational deployments to the Indian Ocean (or other trouble spots) every once in a while. While the ship is bigger than the projects discussed earlier, heavy automation means the crew is reduced to 150 persons (roughly twice the compliment of former Finnish training ship FNS Pohjanmaa (01)), which shouldn’t prove prohibitively large in the case of a mixed Finnish/Swedish crew. This arrangement would in turn mean that the ordered support ships could be shrunken in size (and cost), and trimmed for their wartime duties in the relatively restricted waters of the Baltic Sea, leaving both navies with better ships, while still sailing the Seven seas and chasing pirates every now and then.

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