Naval Warfare

Royal Netherlands Navy Unveils Upgraded Landing Craft Utility Mark III

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Royal Netherlands Navy Unveils Upgraded Landing Craft Utility Mark III

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Royal Netherlands Navy Unveils Upgraded Landing Craft Utility Mark III at De Haas Shipyards
Royal Netherlands Navy Unveils Upgraded Landing Craft Utility Mark III

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN, Koninklijke Marine) has successfully launched the first of its upgraded Landing Craft Utility (LCU) ships at De Haas Shipyards in Rotterdam. This strategic initiative, known as the midlife upgrade, is being applied to all five LCU landing ships, ensuring their operational viability until at least 2032. The recent launch of the LCU Mark III signals the commencement of a new era for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The 200-ton vessel is currently undergoing final tests and interior modifications at De Haas Shipyards. Once certified, it will be handed over to the Navy through the Materiel and IT Command, enabling it to contribute to various maritime missions.

Undergoing a comprehensive modernization process, the LCU Mark III has been adapted to meet evolving requirements and diverse applications. Notable enhancements include the incorporation of a new sleeping quarters, the renewal of generators, a complete replacement of the wheelhouse, and the repositioning of exhaust systems towards the stern. Numerous systems have been upgraded, and additional functionalities have been integrated to enhance the craft’s versatility. The meticulous renovation of the remaining LCU ships is scheduled to take place in phases until 2025, ensuring that the entire fleet undergoes the transformative midlife upgrade.

The first of five Dutch navy landing craft utility (LCU) Mk IX vessels to undergo its MLU, L 9525 , is launched at De Haas Shipyards in Rotterdam on 9 January. (Dutch MoD)
The Royal Netherlands Navy Mk IX landing craft utility (LCU) vessel L 9525 is launched at De Haas Shipyards in Rotterdam on 9 January. (Photo by Netherlands Ministry of Defence)

The LCU Mark II, recognized as the Royal Netherlands Navy’s largest landing craft, is designed primarily for transporting equipment and troops to the shore. Capable of carrying light tracked or wheeled vehicles and troops from amphibious assault ships to beachheads or piers, these LCUs play a pivotal role in the Navy’s operations. Four LCUs are allocated to the RNLN’s landing platform docks Rotterdam (L 800) and Johan de Witt (L 801), while the others serve purposes such as training and maintenance. Built on the roll-on roll-off (RORO) principle, the LCU Mark II allows vehicles to enter on one side and exit on the other.

The vessels, ordered from Visser Dockyard in Den Helder in 1996, underwent a significant lengthening process between 2003 and 2005 to reduce their draft. With a full load displacement of 255 tonnes, a length of 36.3 meters, a beam of 6.85 meters, and a draft of 1.4 meters, the LCUs boast a top speed of 9 knots and a range of 400 nautical miles at 8 knots. The LCUs serve as the Navy’s primary means of transporting heavy equipment from amphibious transport ships to the beach and back. With the capacity to carry 130 troops or 65 tonnes of vehicles, including three trucks, two armored vehicles, and a BARV recovery vehicle, these upgraded landing craft utility ships stand as a testament to the Royal Netherlands Navy’s commitment to maintaining a modern and effective naval force.

The Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK II is the Royal Netherlands Navy’s largest landing craft. It is mainly intended for transport equipment and troops to the shore.
The Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK II is the Royal Netherlands Navy’s largest landing craft. It is mainly intended for transport equipment and troops to the shore. (Photo by Netherlands Ministry of Defence)

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