Author: Nighthawk

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So the Defence Capability Plan 2019 was released in June 2019 it covers the defence spending out to about 2030 of what type new equipment the NZDF will receive, although not saying exactly what they will buy for example a 2nd enhanced sealift vessel for RNZN but only basically say it's capability, not what the actual vessel is or where they will get it built or even the exact style of the vessel. There are many options from LPD's too small LHD's.

Suggested new naval purchases also contribute to these broader strategic objectives. HMNZS Canterbury’s sea-state ratings for landing craft operations are limited, so a new landing platform dock that has a greater cargo capacity can cope with higher sea state, has a shallow draught and has improved self-protection capability would improve potential contributions in the Pacific.

The DCP-2019 basically says that the government have recognised the value of a sealift vessel, but the current vessel has limitations and the new vessel the want to rectify these limitations, and the main limitation is lack of a well dock on HMNZS Canterbury. 

Noting the value and capabilities of what HMNZS Canterbury the NZG and MoD want more, the new vessel will be larger and more capable, needs to carry more equipment, more troops and least the same number of helo's which is x3 NH-90 and x1 SH 2G(I) SeaSprite.

Because Canterbury doesn't have a well dock, Canterbury can carry quite a sizable load for the size of the vessel with 40-50+ vehicles (depending on load out a vehicle size etc) and x33 20 foot containers. Canterbury also has a 5 bed hospital, and 2 bed sickbay, an operation theatre, a morgue, scientific labs, various workshops, gym, an armory, and magazine.

Going by the DCP2019 they want to increase the capabilities in all these area's carry more equipment, more troops, most likely a larger hospital facilities. They want at least the same capabilities in the helicopters capability but possibly more reading between the lines.  To be able to launch and recover drones, to be special operations with being able to deploy NZSAS. And the self defence of said vessel should be more that a single 25mm auto cannon and a couple of 50cal HMG's.

Read the full Defence Capability Plan 2019 here. So let's look at what the DCP19 says;

Page 13


69. Recognising the high value of sealift to humanitarian and disaster relief, and the sustainment of deployed forces, in the mid-2020s an additional sealift vessel will be acquired. Operating alongside HMNZS Canterbury, this acquisition will provide two sealift vessels, and will greatly improve the effectiveness of the Defence Force, and the resilience of the nation, and the region.

70. The enhanced sealift vessel will have greater lift capacity than HMNZS Canterbury. The capability will provide a highly flexible military asset, including hospital facilities, planning spaces, and self-defence capabilities. It will also provide support for the deployment of a range of capabilities, including Special Forces, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and NH90 helicopters. The enhanced sealift capability will also improve the New Zealand Defence Force’s amphibious operations. Through the provision of a well dock, it will be able to conduct operations in a wider range of sea conditions, and will have the size and capacity to carry large equipment, and sufficient aviation capacity to allow extended, long duration operations. Its size will also provide for the transport of a larger number of personnel, allowing for the value of the increased size of the New Zealand Army to be realised.

71. Collectively, these enhancements will significantly increase our ability to respond to humanitarian and security events in the Pacific region. While a future project will determine detailed requirements for this capability, a Landing Platform Dock is an example of the type of vessel that will be considered.

72. Following 2030, HMNZS Canterbury will be withdrawn from service. At this time an investment will be made to further improve the Defence Force’s sealift capability with an additional vessel. Options will be explored against the composition of the fleet, the wider Defence Force and the prevailing strategic environment.


and from page 33 and 34


Investment decisions planned for 2026

Enhanced Sealift Capability

197. Acquisition of an enhanced multi-role sealift vessel to complement HMNZS Canterbury will occur in the late2020s. The ship will be able to carry more people, stores and equipment, and will include a docking well, allowing the ship to be able to operate in a greater range of sea states, including those typically encountered around New Zealand and in the Pacific. It will also support the same or a greater number of embarked helicopters as HMNZS Canterbury. An example of the class of vessel that could be considered under this project is a Landing Platform Dock.

198. The new sealift vessel will provide greater support and sustainment of humanitarian and disaster relief and security operations in the Pacific, and increased support to civil defence and emergency management domestically.

Indicative dates:
Industry engagement commences – 2022
Request for tender – 2024
Introduction into Service – 2029

Indicative capital cost:
More than $1b

Additional Enhanced Sealift Capability

203. HMNZS Canterbury will be replaced in the mid-2030s, at the end of its service life. The capability acquired will be determined during the business case process, but will improve the Defence Force’s sealift capability at the time HMNZS Canterbury is retired, complementing the enhanced sealift vessel procured in the late 2020s. Options will be explored against the composition of the fleet, the wider Defence Force and the prevailing strategic environment.


So we know that there will be a second enhanced sealift ship with a proper well dock with in the next 10 years and it will work alongside HMNZS Canterbury not replace her. We also know that it will can carry more troops and personal as well as more equipment, will be able to operate multiple helo's and have enhanced facility's that of HMNZS Canterbury. We also know more that 1 billion + of the 20 billion is budgeted for this vessel.

So let us look at our options for both LPD's as well as some of the smaller LHD's that could meet the NZDF and RNZN 's needs, that are set out by the NZG in the DCP19 and which is continually changing. So first let us look and the capabilities of HMNZS Canterbury L421.

One thing to note in this article is calculations on cost and inflation and is only a very quick calculation and can not be taken for granted as many things can happen between now and then and can only be an estimate. I also calculate to 2025/2026 which is roughly when the NZDF, MoD and NZG will make the decision as the request for tender is 2024 and will know the cost of the project. The important thing here is the 1B + the + here is meaning they could budget more if truly needed. 

To give an indication on inflation, HMNZS Canterbury in 2005 cost $130 Million or $130,000,000 NZD if we inflate that to 2019, it would cost $172 Million or $172,000,000. Now remember the new LHD/LPD is budgeted a $1 Billion or $1,000,000,000 + and that will be in in around 2025/26 inflated dollars when the contract is expected to be signed.

HMNZS Canterbury - L421

HMNZS Canterbury before her alterations.

Multi-role vessel - LPA
9,000 tonnes (full load)
131 m (430 ft)
23.4 m (77 ft)
5.4 m (18 ft)
CODADE (combined diesel and diesel-electric) consisting of 2 Wärtsilä engines @ 4.5 MW, 3 × auxiliary diesels, 2 × bow thrusters
19.6 kn (36.3 km/h; 22.6 mph) baseline
16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) economical
8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
2 × medium landing craft (23 m) displacement: 55 tonnes (empty), 100 tonnes (full load), crew: 3
2 × RHIB (7.4 m), 300 hp (220 kW), range: 130 nmi (240 km) speed: 35 kn (65 km/h)
2 × special forces RHIB (11 m) as optional cargo
Up to 250
Core: 53 naval, 10 air force, 7 army
Other: 35 trainees, 4 government agents
Sensors and
processing systems:
Fire control: Vistar Electro-Optical
ESM: CEA Warrlock HFDF
Radar: S & X band
1 × remote-controlled MSI DS25 stabilised naval gun with 25 mm M242 Bushmaster cannon
2 × .50 calibre machine guns
Small arms
Aircraft carried:

2 × SH-2G Seasprite helicopter. Can be armed with a combination of homing torpedoes, depth charges, Penguin air-to-surface missiles and a MAG58M machine gun.

4 × NH90 helicopters can also be hangared for transport.

Aviation facilities:
Helicopter deck (stern)
The flight deck can accommodate up to a Chinook sized helo
HMNZS Canterbury after her alterations which were completed in 2013


As a sealift ship, Canterbury is not intended to enter combat, or conduct opposed landings under fire. The ship's armament consists of a single 25 mm M242 Bushmaster cannon fitted to an MSI DS25 stabilised mount, two .50 calibre machine guns, and a number of small arms. These are intended for self-defence against other smaller craft, and for ocean patrol duties (for example the intercepting of suspicious civilian craft) during a naval blockade. NOTE: There is actually 2 .50 calibre machine guns on each bridge wing.


The ship has cargo space of 1,451 square metres (15,620 sq ft), which can be unloaded via two ramps, either from the starboard side or the stern.

The indicative cargo would encompass (as one possible loadout): 14 Pinzgauer Light Operational Vehicles, 16 NZLAV light armored vehicles, 7 Unimog trucks, 2 ambulances, 2 flatbed trucks, 7 vehicle trailers, 2 rough terrain forklifts, 4 ATV-type vehicles and up to 33 20 ft TEU containers.

The ship is equipped to embark up to eight containers of ammunition and up to two with hazardous materials, and also has an extensive fire sprinkler system.

Landing craft

The ship also carries two Landing Craft, Medium.[clarification needed] The landing craft have a length of 23 metres (75 ft) and a displacement of 55 tonnes (empty) to 100 tonnes (loaded with two NZLAVs). They are operated by a crew of three, using two Azimuth thrusters generating 235 kW.

The LCMs can be loaded from either of Canterbury's two 60 tonne cranes or via the stern ramp. To aid stern ramp loading, the MRV is fitted with Flippers to ensure that the LCM are aligned with the MRV. A ballasting system is fitted to allow for safe operations during loading.[citation needed] Once loaded, the LCM can conduct over-the-beach landings, with the boats mainly intended to be able to access beaches in the Pacific where no port facilities are available, for example during humanitarian missions.

Helicopter facilities

Canterbury is able to accommodate up to four NH90 helicopters for deployment ashore in support of New Zealand Army operations and disaster relief activities. This was reduced to 3 NH-90 after the alterations to the RHIB alcoves were made. She is also capable of operating the SH-2G Seasprite and the helicopter deck is able to handle a Chinook-size helicopter.


Canterbury has a five-bed hospital ward, a two-bed sickbay, an operating theatre, a medical laboratory, and a morgue.


The ship also contains a gym, workshops, an armory, and magazine, as well as offices for government officials embarked (such as Department of Conservation or NIWA scientists).

The main thing that HMNZS Canterbury is missing to make her a truly capable vessel is a well dock. But she would probably also have to be longer, else too much space below would be taken up on the dock meaning fewer vehicles she can carry. So she would have to be longer...

LPD - Landing Platform Dock

So the DCP says "a Landing Platform Dock is an example of the type of vessel that will be considered." and while that is most likely what we will get it is not our only options as stated above some LPD's are as big as the smaller LHD's and lot more expensive.

The budget of more than 1 billion NZD is a lot of LPD even when you take in consideration of the LCM's and when I say a lot I mean a lot and it if you going to spend that much on an LPD, then might well spend the same money on a smaller LHD and have that enhanced helo operations which give an overall enhanced performance and even minor force projection.

Now I am not suggesting that the options I post here are the only options or the right options, I am just saying they are options. The other thing is, many of the options are not much more than HMNZS Canterbury can do but has a well dock... For this article, I will be using info found on Wiki and while it won't be 100% accurate it will be close enough for this article. So let us look at some options;

Article: http://nighthawk.nz/
Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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