HNLMS Johan de Witt has participated twice in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, where it successfully disrupted pirate activities and patrolled the coast.
In today’s low-intensity conflict environment, the ability to project power from the sea has taken on new dimensions. This had led to the birth of new technologies designed to rapidly place forces on a beach and defeat an enemy through the doctrines of combined arms and vertical envelopment.
In modern amphibious assault activities, the Landing Platform Dock is showing efficiency, it is a way to bring people and machines to the hostile coast effectively and safely, moreover, it can provide necessary support actions.
In the last 20 years, European countries have experienced a significant increase in the number of landing ships. The Netherlands, a country with no landing ships during the cold war, in the early 2000s purchased two amphibious ships Rotterdam and Johan de Witt.
The ship we will talk about in this article is L801 HNLMS Johan de Witt, the second Landing Platform Dock amphibious warfare ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Johan de Witt’s design has improvements over its predecessor, make the ship has a larger vehicle transport capacity than HNLMS Rotterdam, which has demonstrated full functionality for dock and helicopter operations in all weather conditions.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt, displacing 16,800 tons, her keel was laid down on June 18th, 2003 and she was launched to sea on May 13th, 2006. After trials and evaluations, the warship was commissioned for service on November 30th, 2007.
The motto of the ship is Ago Quod Ago, translated as I do what I do. With the required capabilities the ship is also well suited for secondary missions such as military sealift or disaster relief.
The overall length of the hull of the Johan de Witt is 176.35m, its beam is 29m and its maximum draught is 6m. The vessel is capable of carrying out helicopter operations up to sea state six, operations with landing craft are possible up to sea state four.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt is equipped with a large helicopter deck for helicopter operations and a dock for large landing craft. The aircraft hangar is sufficiently large to accommodate up to six medium-size helicopters, such as the the NH90 or AS-532 Cougar or four CH47 Chinook heavy helicopters.
HNLMS Johan de Witt has a well dock for two Landing Craft Utility and it can carries four Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel. The dock is wide enough to support two Landing Craft Air Cushion, but to allow for this, the centre barrier, that splits the dockwell in two, must be removed.
The vessel has an extra deck with rooms for command staff to support a battalion size operation. The ship has a complete Role II hospital, including an operation theatre and intensive care facilities. A surgical team can be stationed on board.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt is operated by a crew of 146, and a further 555 marines can be housed with full support facilities. Johan de Witt can be supplemented with an impressive number of up to 33 Main Battle Tanks or 170 Armored Fighting Vehicles.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt also has a desalination system enabling it to convert seawater into drinking water, provides an nearly-endless water supply. Onboard food stores support the ship’s occupants for up to six straight weeks before requiring resupply. It is equipped with pod propulsion enabling the ship to use dynamic positioning while sea basing.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt is equipped with four Stork Wartsila diesel generators with Podded Propulsion bow thruster, generating 19,800 horsepower. The top speed is more than 19 knots, the range is 6,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.
The Johan de Witt is equipped with a sensor suite consists of a Thales Netherlands Variant 2D Air and Surface surveillance radar, the Thales Scout Low Probability of Intercept Surface surveillance and tactical navigation radar and the Thales GateKeeper Electro-Optical warning system. When participating in high-risk operations Johan de Witt needs additional protection from frigates or destroyers.
For protection against incoming anti-ship missiles or hostile aircraft and swarm attacks the ship has two Goalkeeper Close-in weapon systems and 4 to 6 manual operated 12.7mm Browning or FN Mag machine guns.
Goalkeeper’s Gatling-principle 30mm gun provides a maximum firing rate of 4,200 rounds a minute with a range of 1,500m. To support the Goalkeeper Close-in weapon system, a Thales Nederland IPSCAN infrared search and track system is fitted. Four Oerlikon 20mm guns are located on the bridge deck.
The HNLMS Johan de Witt’s decoy system consists of four Sippican Hycor SRBOC MK36 launcher, which fire infrared decoys and chaff for confusion and distraction of incoming anti-ship missiles.
Johan de Witt’s home port is in Den Helder. The ship has participated twice in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, where it successfully disrupted pirate activities and patrolled the coast with the landing craft functioning as forward operating bases. Johan de Witt also supported the locals with medical assistance and supplying food and water.
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