Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 07:43 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 07:43 | SYDNEY

The Swiss Army knife of the seas


Sam Roggeveen


31 March 2010 13:51

Turkey's navy has announced a contest for the construction of large amphibious ships, which can carry troops, supplies and helicopters over long distances, and are useful for combat, peacekeeping or humanitarian missions.

Earlier this year Russia agreed terms with France for similar ships, and the Turkish article cited above says 'the navies of more than 10 countries, including Britain, China, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States' have this capability. I'm not certain India actually belongs on this list, but off the top of my head I would add South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Australia as countries which either have such ships or are building them. South Africa, Canada and some others are flirting with the idea.

What's really remarkable is that, other than the US and arguably the UK, all these countries have acquired this capability within the last 15 or-so years, making this one of the more notable military capability trends of the post-Cold War era.

Turkey says it wants these ships for overseas deployment as part of NATO and peacekeeping missions. Of course, just having the capability does not mean it will be used, but this trend suggests we can expect more military activism from these countries in future.

Photo of HMS Ocean courtesy of the Royal Navy.