Three shipyards set for Turkish LPD tender

RMK Marine's LPD design proposal for the Turkish Navy.

Three Turkish shipyards have responded to a request for tender (RfT) to design and build an amphibious landing platform dock (LPD) vessel for the Turkish Naval Forces.

Desan Shipyard, RMK Marine and SEDEF submitted their rival proposals to the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) on 16 May. Çelik Tekne and Dearsan Shipyard, which had until recently been expected to compete, did not submit responses; the ADIK and Istanbul Denizcilik yards had already advised the SSM of their intention not to bid.

The LPD requirement calls for a logistically self-sustaining amphibious vessel able to transport, sustain and land a battalion-size force in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea operating areas. The ship will also have a secondary humanitarian relief role.

It is understood that the RfT specified a vessel with at least four helicopter landing spots, hangar space for four helicopters and a stern dock for two landing craft air cushion or four landing craft mechanised.

These characteristics, together with accommodation and vehicle/cargo storage for the embarked military force, have driven through-deck LHD-type designs of more than 25,000 tons displacement. This will make the LPD the largest naval vessel ever built in Turkey.

The SSM issued its RfT in February 2010, with bids originally due for return by the end of 2010.

However, the deadline was extended to mid-May 2011 to allow interested shipyards to decide their LPD bid strategy and finalise their design.

While the SSM mandated an indigenous prime contractor for the LPD programme, it has allowed Turkish shipbuilders to partner with overseas shipyards and design houses. SEDEF teamed with Spain’s Navantia to bid a variant of the latter’s Juan Carlos I strategic projection ship, while Desan’s design is believed to have been developed in conjunction with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation.

Meanwhile, RMK Marine developed its LPD design in-house. However, it has used UK-based BMT Defence Services as a consultant for aspects of its solution.

The SSM anticipates that the bid evaluation process will take up to 12 months. Contract negotiations with a preferred bidder and the need for the selected shipbuilder to secure a financing package mean a final contract award is unlikely before late 2012.

The LPD project represents the largest single element of an ambitious plan to recapitalise the Turkish Naval Forces’ amphibious and logistics fleet. Eight 79 m fast landing craft tank are currently being built by ADIK and the same yard was in May 2011 contracted to build two 138 m landing ship tank vessels.