Spain has an advanced amphibious landing ship called ATHLAS 13000, which is one of the best warships in the world, as it has proven its efficiency and great ability to meet various requirements and perform the most difficult missions to the fullest.
The ATHLAS 13000 giant ship is credited with the Spanish international company Navantia, which specializes in the design and construction of amphibious ships, with a family of products that covers a wide range of amphibious vessels (LPD, LHD, LCM, etc).
The ATHLAS 13000 LPD is a relevant member of this family. It is a proven Navantia design based on the “Galicia” Class LPD, with two units in operation in the Spanish Navy, sharing design with the “Rotterdam” Class LPD in operation in the Dutch Navy.
The main missions of the ATHLAS 13000 LPD are to project an expeditionary force in any conflict zone or in places where any type of natural disaster has occurred, as well as being a floating hospital with the capacity to provide medical and surgical support anywhere in the world.
The ATHLAS 13000 LPD has been designed to transport and/or deploy, troops, vehicles and material in areas without infrastructure, being able to perform ship-to-shore transfer operations with landing crafts from its internal floodable dock and with helicopters from its flight deck.
With regard to the capacity to provide humanitarian aid in natural disasters, it is worth highlighting the participation of the Spanish Navy “Galicia” Class LPD in disaster relief operations such as those after the floods caused by hurricane “Mitch” in Central America, the activities to clean up the pollution caused by the sinking of the oil tanker “Prestige”, the “Solidarity Response” humanitarian aid operation in Indonesia to help alleviate the effects of the Tsunami, its support as a Hospital Ship deployed in Melilla for supporting tasks during the Pandemic, amongst many others.
The ATHLAS 13000 LPD is a vessel of 160 m in length, 25 m in breadth, 5.8 m in draught and a full load displacement of 13,000 tonnes, with a capacity to accommodate 164 crew and 637 embarked personnel.
It has a propulsion plant based on four diesel engines with a total power of 16 MW driving two variable pitch propellers, which allows the vessel to sustain a maximum speed of 20 knots. Cruising at 12 knots, the ATHLAS 13000 LPD range reaches 6,000 nautical miles.
The ship has a high level of survivability with measures aimed to reduce its signatures (reduced radar cross section, practical measures to reduce acoustic and infrared signatures, installation of a degaussing system, etc…) and improve its vulnerability (NBC defence, systems redundancy, etc…).
The aircraft facilities allow the ship to support day and night helicopter operations (Take-off, landing, VERTREP and HIFR) in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), providing full service and organisational level maintenance facilities for medium size helicopters (such as the MH-60R and NH-90 helicopters).
The ship has a Flight Deck with two landing spots for MH-60R or NH-90 type helicopters and a Hangar of 510 m2 for six MH-60R helicopters or four NH-90 (marinized version)
The ship will also be prepared to support the operation of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV), which will be stowed in the hangar sharing the space with the helicopters.
AMPHIBIOUS / TRANSPORT CAPACITY
The ship has the following amphibious/transport spaces:
1 A floodable dock of approx. 890 m2 with capacity for 4 LCM and additional RHIBs, or the possibility of transporting up to 16 tanks.
2 A main vehicle garage of approx. 725 m2 with the capacity to transport up to 50 light vehicles or 14 tanks.
3 A secondary vehicle garage of approx. 285 m2 with the capacity to transport up to 16 light vehicles.
4 There is also the possibility of transporting light vehicles on the flight deck (up to 100 light vehicles) and hangar (36 light vehicles) not compatible with air operations.
The dock, vehicle garages, flight deck and hangar are connected (either direct connection or through elevators) to facilitate the deployment of vehicles and equipment both from the dock (via landing crafts) and from the flight deck (via helicopters).
Apart from roll-on/roll-off cargo, the vessel can carry up to 700 tonnes of miscellaneous cargo, allowing it to stay between two and five months without entering port.
An essential complement to the LPD is the LCM. The LCM-1E is a Navantia design, with 24 crafts in operation with the Spanish and Australian Navies. They are high speed crafts (13 kt in full load/22 kt in lightship condition), high load capacity (up to 65 t), fully compatible with the ATHLAS 13000 LPD, allowing vehicles, troops and material to be deployed on the beach in a very reduced time.
DISATER RELIEF OPERATIONS
ATHLAS 13000 LPD has a hospital with a resuscitation and triage room, an operating theatre, two full operating theatres, an intensive care unit with eight beds and an infectious ward with four beds, a consultation room, radiology, sterilisation, dentist, laboratory and pharmacy
The LPD Combat System is based on the Navantia “CATIZ” CMS already in service in the Spanish Navy and other navies. The “CATIZ” CMS integrates the ship’s effectors and sensors, providing assistance in tactical planning, classifying the environment, providing interpretation and evaluation of the combat information and sensor data, disseminating the evaluated data, allowing the assignment of targets and directing engagements orders to the weapons systems.
The Integrated Navigation and Bridge System is based on the Navantia “MINERVA” which provides, among other features, efficient route planning and monitoring using Electronic Nautical Charts, safe ship steering and navigation control, centralized and ergonomic monitoring and control from the Bridge, and on-board distribution of a common and precise set of coherent navigational information.
The Integrated Internal and External Communications System is based on the Navantia “HERMESYS” Integrated Communications Control System which provides reliable, fast and secure internal/external voice and data communications, Radio Equipment to cover the transmission and/or reception in VLF, HF, VHF and UHF bands, GMDSS Radio Equipment, SATCOM, Integrated Internal/External Communications, Telephone Systems (Automatic & self-powered), Public Address and Recreation System and CCTV monitoring.
MODULAR DESIGN. FLEXIBILITY TO BE ADAPTED TO NAVY NEEDS
Navantia presented for the first time at the IDEX-NAVDEX exhibition its new LPD configurator, a tool that allows customising the different alternatives of a ship to the client’s needs and which is based, in turn, on an innovative modular design system.
In naval design, each ship is unique in terms of mission, areas of operation and required capabilities, usually becoming a prototype of that series of ships. The modular design provides agility in the design, which reduces construction and life cycle times and costs, facilitates the incorporation of new technologies and provides greater operational flexibility to multi-mission vessels.
Navantia is a pioneer in the naval sector in the use of this technique, which consists of dividing the ship into modular units associated with different capabilities, such as the propulsion system, air capacity or habitability.
This solution allows the client to configure the ship, adapting it more effectively to their needs, including or eliminating features in a simple way. The configurator is a virtual tool that allows the customer to visualise the different configurations of the vessel.
In addition, two other concepts have been incorporated. On the one hand, the use of containerised mission modules, which increase the ship’s versatility without the need to increase its size or the complexity of the equipment and services permanently installed on board. On the other hand, systems have been defined that can be scalable in scope according to the customer’s wishes and needs, such as combat or communications systems, so that the customer can select the one that best suits his requirements from among various levels of performance.
(a military researcher)