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Why Not Canadian Amphib/Marine Capability? (merged)

Kirkhill

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Fewer excuses for Her Majesty's Canadian Government not to have its own sea-borne infantry.  The Americans are accepting, as have the Brits, that not all vessels have to be Death Stars. 

Back to the days of Cutting Out* expeditions.

New fleet needed: Marines could go to war on small carriers, commercial vessels

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2019/12/05/new-fleet-needed-marines-could-go-to-war-on-small-carriers-commercial-vessels/

...[Commandant Gen] Berger’s planning guidance, released in July, looks to move away from the unfeasible 38-amphib ship goal and instead use a mix of amphib ships, smaller expeditionary sea bases, fast transport ships and even commercial ships to move Marines.

....

the Chinese method of enveloping a contested area with a variety of boats, from commercial fishing ships to marine surveillance ships and actual warships that wraps an area in layers, like a cabbage.

That scenario makes conventional warfare and naval deterrence and access much more difficult, creating hazards that have international consequences such as a military vessel colliding with a commercial ship.

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And to meet that challenge, Berger points out, the current forward bases and infrastructure all within range of enemy weapons, are “extremely vulnerable.”

As are the large ships now in service with “large electronic, acoustic, or optical signatures.”

The shift in how Marines would fight from and back to the sea also changes how the Navy could fight.....

Vice Adm. James Kilby, who heads war fighting requirements and capabilities, said that traditionally, naval leaders think of how Marines influence the land component of a sea battle, not the sea. But if they can have effects on sea access and deny enemies movement, then he, as a naval commander can think differently about how to employ his ships.

All of which support recent statements from top Marine leadership that the force has to get lighter, work in smaller formations in support of naval operations, said Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

Getting lighter pairs with “lightning carrier” experimentation ― using smaller aircraft carriers that take advantage of the F-35 capabilities. It even calls for an air wing that consists “mostly or entirely of unmanned aerial vehicles.”

*A cutting out boarding is an attack by small boats, preferably at night and against an unsuspecting, and anchored, target. It became popular in the later 18th century, and was extensively used during the Napoleonic Wars. This heralded the emphasis on stealth, and surprise, that would come to dominate future boarding tactics. An example is the successful cutting out of the Hermione which took place at Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, on 25 October 1799.

In modern warfare, boarding by military forces almost always involves stealth, and usually takes place at night. It may involve the use of small submarines or submersibles, or inflatable boats, or by frogmen. All involve scaling the sides of the ship. When stealth is not as important, helicopters may be used to carry troops to the deck of the ship.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_boarding
 

a_majoor

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Of course even "small" carriers are pretty expensive assets. The USS America has been trialled as a "Lightning Carrier" with a small air component of F-35B's and both Japan and the ROK seem to be considering this class of ship as well, with the Japanese Izumo carrier (technically a "Helicopter Destroyer" according the the JSDF) being a possible conversion. The USS America displaces 46,000 tons and costs about $3.5 billion dollars, while the Izumo is much smaller and cheaper, displacing 27,000 tons and costing about $1.2 billion.

For this sort of plan to work we would really need to recreate the CVE's of WWII fame, and crank them out at about the same pace as the USN did in the 1940's. While a real CVE couldn't carry a F-35B wing very well, it could carry UAV's, helicopters and so on. CVE's of that era were between 7000 to 13000 tons displacement, still larger than a modern Frigate. A modern CVE would need to be able to move with the rest of the fleet and provide cooperative data and sensor coverage to really be a force multiplier.

The other thing that would really be needed is some sort of program to build large numbers of fast transports like the Spearhead class expeditionary fast transport. These ships are much smaller and cheaper than Helicopter Destroyers or America Class ships (1500 tons displacement and a cost of $180 million/unit). These would provide the sort of "swarming attack" platforms needed to invest large numbers of targets at once to keep the enemy off balance and spread thin. Each individual ship of this class can carry a mechanized company with all its kit or a dismounted battalion. The current version has many limitations, but it seems capable of evolution into a much more capable vessel, so use this more as a thought experiment for the idea.

As for Canada, we likely don't have the political will to support even a Helicopter Destroyer, but something along the lines of the Spearhead class looks like the basis for a versatile platform for many different roles (the flight deck can handle helicopters and some types of UAV) to compliment the RCN's frigate fleet, including transporting troops and equipment overseas, if needed, and even landing them at austere piers and quay walls. While not "amphibious" in the usual sense, it certainly provides the CF with far more options about getting troops and equipment around.
 

daftandbarmy

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Thucydides said:
As for Canada, we likely don't have the political will to support even a Helicopter Destroyer, but something along the lines of the Spearhead class looks like the basis for a versatile platform for many different roles (the flight deck can handle helicopters and some types of UAV) to compliment the RCN's frigate fleet, including transporting troops and equipment overseas, if needed, and even landing them at austere piers and quay walls. While not "amphibious" in the usual sense, it certainly provides the CF with far more options about getting troops and equipment around.

What would we use it for? Seriously?

Amphibious forces are generally tasked with 'invasions'. Countries like the UK and France justify their offensive-capable amphibious forces largely as a way to deal with residual obligations in their current and/or former colonies.

Apart from being able to collaborate with other allies, I don't know what rationale we'd use for spending the time and money required  to mantain such a capability.
 

CBH99

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Agreed.

Far better off using both our limited financial resources and limited personnel to generate & reinforce a decently strong fleet of frigates, coastal patrols ships, and submarines.


This is a capability we don't need, can't afford, and wouldn't use even if we did somehow manage to acquire it.
 

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daftandbarmy said:
What would we use it for? Seriously?

Amphibious forces are generally tasked with 'invasions'. Countries like the UK and France justify their offensive-capable amphibious forces largely as a way to deal with residual obligations in their current and/or former colonies.

Apart from being able to collaborate with other allies, I don't know what rationale we'd use for spending the time and money required  to mantain such a capability.
We certainly could have used a San Giusto type flat deck during Somalia, East Timor, Haiti (many times), New Orleans (Katrina), Newfoundland, when the west coast has its mega quake.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_ship_San_Giusto

Many times the CAF has been deployed to coastal areas to assist and have to wait around for room at the airport and then have to set up a base which taxes an already taxed infrastructure. To have a floating base offshore would be a massive asset in these situations.

My 2cents.
 

LoboCanada

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Maybe something the size of a Mistral or Juan Carlos Class may be too much for us, as we don't even have enough extra Cyclones for it, but something more modest like HMS Albion/Bulwark, Damens LPD 13000 or Fincantieris LHD 20000t. Would be that perfect Peace Support Ship. Something to use for DART/HADR in the Caribbean with a side capability of being able to launch a small Marine group. Train up a small force like the Australian 2BN RAR. Not too big to throw Davie a contract for.


CBH99 said:
Agreed.

Far better off using both our limited financial resources and limited personnel to generate & reinforce a decently strong fleet of frigates, coastal patrols ships, and submarines.

This is a capability we don't need, can't afford, and wouldn't use even if we did somehow manage to acquire it.

Part of me says you're wrong, we are a G7 nation and can afford one of these, Nigeria recently bought an LST - anything is possible. Other part says we have to replace everything, so buying a brand new capability should go on the back end of the line.

 

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daftandbarmy said:
What would we use it for? Seriously?

Amphibious forces are generally tasked with 'invasions'. Countries like the UK and France justify their offensive-capable amphibious forces largely as a way to deal with residual obligations in their current and/or former colonies.

Apart from being able to collaborate with other allies, I don't know what rationale we'd use for spending the time and money required  to mantain such a capability.
Agreed.  Currently our geopolitical realities are such that we have no requirement to make/use amphibious forces.  If we are going to use a big honking ship then it should be used for naval task group operations.  So a helicopter carrier would be better.  Support task group operations with increased Cyclone coverage for ASW and investment into RPA's for recognized maritime picture and/or early warning of an attack using a RPA AEW system.  And the medical evac, resupply capabilities would be increased as well with more available aircraft.

Such a vessel would be able to land our current special operations forces (JTF, CSOR) and light infantry using rotary wing or small boat insertions in much larger numbers than currently available.  No marines needed. No special landing craft or well deck required.  It uses basically what we have already and increases their flexibility.

This would fit into our current strategic framework, and our geopolitical realities where we can pick our fights and don't really have to project power. 

The issue that killed the original JSS (Joint Support Ship) was that the Army didn't buy in.  From the Army's perspective they will always get where they need to be.  It's someone else's problem and if they really need to get somewhere it will be made to happen.  Their problems happen in packing and on arrival.  So this is why the JSS turned into a tanker replacement.  The Army wasn't interested in an asset they didn't own to do a job they didn't need.
 

Kirkhill

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Realities.

We currently use troops overseas.  (We seldom use them at home)
We currently deploy troops with just their personal weapons.
We currently also deploy them with vehicles.
We currently deploy them in small packets.
We currently deploy them over time.
We currently recover them, and their kit, in the same way.
We currently do all this with available assets supplemented by civil assets.

We currently do not crash ashore (Historically we are 1 for 3 - Normandy was a pleasant memory, Dieppe and Gallipoli (Newfs were there) not so much).

As FSTO points out we have not been idle in the absence of flat-tops but flat-tops would certainly have added value to actual operations. 

I agree that we don't need specialized marines - our existing battalions should be capable of being deployed from the sea - The largest expansion of the Royal Marines came in the 1730s when 25% (10 battalions out of 40) of the line infantry was raised, and deployed, for sea duties.  Until WW2 all naval supported invasions were conducted by Army forces.  Even in WW2, aside from the Pacific, all invasions were army shows with naval support.  Even the Commandos were originally predominantly army troops with the Royal Marines taking over the role, and the title during the war.  They maintained their Commando designation (commandos being light raiding forces) long after they had added heavy support to their bag of tricks.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

We don't need these:

300px-USS_Gerald_R._Ford_%28CVN-78%29_underway_on_8_April_2017.JPG

300px-USS_America_%28LHA-6%29_F-35B_loaded.jpg


Or even these:

300px-HNLMS_Rotterdam_at_Nieuwe_Waterweg%2C_Starboard_Bow%2C_05.09.2016.jpg


Something like the San Giusto, or even the Absalons - based on the same hull as the CSCs - would be useful additions, if expensive.

300px-San_Marco_%28L9893%29_underway_in_the_Mediterranean_Sea_on_16_June_2016.JPG


6-Absalon-ship.jpg



My preference still tilts towards a couple of sisters to the Asterix configured like the RN's Littoral Support Ship

QE-Presentation-LSG-Hi-Res.jpg


That, in turn, is a knock off of the US conversion of a Maersk container ship  The Cragside became the Ocean Trader

DzIICo-W0AE2AVl.jpg



Too often we seem to fall into a trap of our own devising.  If we can't afford "the best" then we can't do anything at all. 

And yet, we are noted for, and along with many other forces, including both Royals and US marines, for working with the tools available to hand.

A "marine capability" does not necessarily mean this:

20140628_003364.JPG


It can mean this:

soldiers-from-29-commando-regiment-royal-artillery-G5RNXH.jpg
 

Army troops with "marine" skills.
 

MarkOttawa

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Chris Pook said:
Realities.
...
We currently do not crash ashore (Historically we are 1 for 3 - Normandy was a pleasant memory, Dieppe and Gallipoli (Newfs were there) not so much)...

1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade took part in successful invasion of Sicily, July 10, 1943--so two for four:
https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/canada-Italy-1943-to-1945#cansicily

You know, the D-Day Dodgers:

"Look around the hillsides

Through the mist and rain

See the scattered crosses

Some that bear no name

Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone

The lads beneath, they slumber on

They are the D-Day Dodgers

Who stay in Italy."
https://www.thespec.com/living-story/9366155-for-many-canadians-their-d-day-was-in-1943/

Mark
Ottawa

 

a_majoor

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daftandbarmy said:
What would we use it for? Seriously?

Amphibious forces are generally tasked with 'invasions'. Countries like the UK and France justify their offensive-capable amphibious forces largely as a way to deal with residual obligations in their current and/or former colonies.

Apart from being able to collaborate with other allies, I don't know what rationale we'd use for spending the time and money required  to mantain such a capability.

Flexibility. The Spearhead class or analogue could bring our 450 man battlegroup to Latvia (or any European shore) with equipment in 4 lifts, or with a convoy of four ships. One ship could deliver the 200 or so advisors to Ukraine or SoF contingent to the Middle East. Given the size of the Helicopters, maybe 2 or 3 would be needed to move the mission to Mali. Missions for disaster relief such as Haiti or the US Gulf coast after a hurricane would also require between one and four ships, depending on what sort of package you want to send (450 Engineers with all their kit might max out 4 ships, or a small medical component and several ships full of aid and trucks to deliver it, or anything in between). This also allows Canadian troops to be deployed along most of our coastline, even Hudson Bay and part of the Arctic in the summertime.

This is using maritime power as the Force Projection component, and allowing us to bring men and equipment at the time and place of our own choosing. We would not be dependent on secure airheads (although being able to count on that is nice and adds additional flexibility to our response).

The actual "Amphibious/Marine" capability would be more along the lines of understanding shipborne operations and logistics, understanding how to load and offload and being able to plan landings, including alternates, to put your package ashore. An "amphibious" headquarters or staff courses to prepare, and regular training (such as RIMPAC) to keep current and learn from other navies and marine forces. The actual troops debarking the ships are just ordinary army troops, with some workup training to be able to move their stuff on and off the ship without causing problems and issues. Enhancing capabilities like buying amphibious vehicles like Broncos or the US ACV would be icing on the cake, but not a 100% necessity.
 

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Chris Pook said:
We currently do not crash ashore (Historically we are 1 for 3 - Normandy was a pleasant memory, Dieppe and Gallipoli (Newfs were there) not so much).

Both Gallipoli landings were considered a success as far as amphibious landings go; the Brits never did anything after they landed.  You also forgot Husky.
 

daftandbarmy

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Infanteer said:
Both Gallipoli landings were considered a success as far as amphibious landings go; the Brits never did anything after they landed.  You also forgot Husky.

And Op Cottage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cottage
 

Cloud Cover

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Kiska.

A HADR multi role ship is more desirable than a dedicated amphib. Obviously such a ship could transport people (and “things”) and connect from sea to shore including by air.  The ship doesn’t even have to be an HMCS- for example the RFA Bay class model could be an option.
 

daftandbarmy

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whiskey601 said:
Kiska.

A HADR multi role ship is more desirable than a dedicated amphib. Obviously such a ship could transport people (and “things”) and connect from sea to shore including by air.  The ship doesn’t even have to be an HMCS- for example the RFA Bay class model could be an option.

On the NATO Northern Flank exercises we deployed the elite Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines Commando in....

.... leased Danish sea going DFDS car Ferries.

I think that was the 'General War' plan too, which is slightly worrying.
 

Kirkhill

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Ok

(OK, before I go any further, who has been playing around with this site?  I got stuck on my third keystroke on my phone and had to come back to my computer! - but back to our game)

OK, so I forgot one or six.  But I will still stand by my base points.  We should be able to do maritime support of existing land forces.  And, we shouldn't have to break the piggy bank to do it. We could add a lot to our capabilities with some readily available civilian platforms with an open deck and a crane or two.

And as for the Paras going to war in Maersk ferries from Denmark - you lot also went to war in the Falklands in the commandeered luxury liner Canberra (admittedly 2 Para had to follow in another RoRo , the Norland.).
 

daftandbarmy

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Chris Pook said:
Ok

(OK, before I go any further, who has been playing around with this site?  I got stuck on my third keystroke on my phone and had to come back to my computer! - but back to our game)

OK, so I forgot one or six.  But I will still stand by my base points.  We should be able to do maritime support of existing land forces.  And, we shouldn't have to break the piggy bank to do it. We could add a lot to our capabilities with some readily available civilian platforms with an open deck and a crane or two.

And as for the Paras going to war in Maersk ferries from Denmark - you lot also went to war in the Falklands in the commandeered luxury liner Canberra (admittedly 2 Para had to follow in another RoRo , the Norland.).

So....I'm guessing that any competent military organization can organize enough leased shipping to do what we need to do (e.g., nothing approaching the Normandy Invasion) without trying the build a CanUSMC capability.

In the meantime, I suppose we can fly our troops into theatre in air conditioned comfort in big passenger jets.

 

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Canadians stormed ashore in France during WW2 so that might demonstrate a limited amphibious capability without having major amphibious ships.
 

Kirkhill

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daftandbarmy said:
So....I'm guessing that any competent military organization can organize enough leased shipping to do what we need to do (e.g., nothing approaching the Normandy Invasion) without trying the build a CanUSMC capability.

In the meantime, I suppose we can fly our troops into theatre in air conditioned comfort in big passenger jets.

Personally I am not in favour of embarked troops floating around the oceans.  I am in favour of floating warehouses with attached accommodations and flat tops parked at docks in operational support hubs (Koeln-Bonn, Kuwait, Jamaica, Dakar, Mombasa, Singapore, Busan) with holds full of bullets, beans and bandages and decks loaded with sets of vehicles and guns.

The troops can fly in and marry up with the gear.  The Navy can escort the warehouses.  The Air Force flies the aircraft and the helos.  The government gets a rapid response capability across the full spectrum of operations.
 

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tomahawk6 said:
Canadians stormed ashore in France during WW2 so that might demonstrate a limited amphibious capability without having major amphibious ships.

Here's a little primer on Canadian landing craft in WW2. At Normandy there were enough of these to land an infantry division in the first assault wave. The US and UK each landed two divisions that day.

https://www.junobeach.org/canada-in-wwii/articles/the-ships/landing-crafts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_Beach

For the time, these were the basic amphibious ships in service with other countries although the US efforts in the Pacific were naturally on a completely different scale.

The issue for Canadian amphibious resources nowadays is that there just isn't that much call for the capability. Currently there are no threats (even in the Arctic) for which a full-time amphibious capability is needed. One can envision numerous scenarios where a force might be needed but none of those justify the building and maintenance of a "marine" or "naval infantry" force. Our current light infantry battalions are organized and equipped to be capable of various missions including air assault (even limited para) and ship-borne operations.

IMHO, what we're really missing are the naval components to transport, support and supply a mechanized expeditionary force. The fact is that since there is no full-time threat, the role of equipping, manning and training the naval component of such a part-force could and should be primarily a naval reserve force one.

Again, IMHO, our first and foremost need is to have ships of sufficient capacity to transport heavy equipment and supplies to Europe. RORO capabilities such as the numerous classes of medium and fast speed ships currently with the US Military Sealift Command or US Reserve Fleets would provide a capability to preposition and support mechanized expeditionary forces if and when required.

Obviously such ships do not support over-the-beach amphibious operations such as what Amphibious Assault Ships or Landing Ship, Dock do, but quite frankly that capability is neither strategically necessary for Canada nor even remotely in the capital spending capability of the Canadian Navy. I sincerely doubt if they would be prepared to fund even one Naval Reserve RORO ship (much less an LSD) as long as Canada can lease that capability from the civilian market as needed. I'm not sure we can count on a civilian lease system in the event of a major European (and thereby North Atlantic) conflict which is why I'd like to see a Naval Reserve capability instead.

:cheers:
 
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