There is considerable discussion over on Army.ca (or Navy.ca if you wish) beginning about here on the subject of large warships. I have touched on this before, going all the way back to General Rick Hillier’s desire, back when he was Chief of the Defence Staff (in 2005-2008), to have a “big honkin’ ship,” as he described it ~ in fact he wanted a multi-role support ship, which could serve as a tanker and troop carrier, too. Now, near the end of that interesting thread, one member raises the prospect of buying two of the very modern Japanese Izumo class helicopter carrying ‘destroyers’ – which are 800+ feet long and displace over 25,000 tons fully loaded. (For contrast the support ship Asterix, the largest ship in Canada’s fleet, today, is just inches short of 600 feet long and displaces about 23,000 tons.
I was, back in December of 2016 (second link, above), unsure about Canada’s need for and capacity to use a big honkin’ ship, but some of my friends. who have much better knowledge of (and real experience in) amphibious operations than I ever had and who have actually studied the issue, suggest that this is the right sort of ship for Canada … one of several. What all of my friends agree on is that, now, in 2019, the Royal Canadian Navy doesn’t have enough men and women to man its planned fleet, much less two, new, large warships … in short, we need a bigger Navy.
The proponent of this idea suggests that these ships (he says two, I think we would need three to cover periods in extended repair and refit) would be flagships for Canada’s two ‘blue water’ (global) fleets in Esquimalt and Halifax. But for any Canadian government to ‘sell’ voters on the idea of more money and more people to make the Navy able to operate big ships like these they will have to be classed as multi-role vessels with the emphasis on disaster relief and so on, which is something the Japanese also emphasized when these ships were procured, in 2015. Indeed, the ship, which has a crew complement of about 400, I think, can transport about 400 soldiers (say two large combat teams in Canadian Army parlance) and about 50 medium logistics vehicles, in addition to five to ten helicopters, making it suited for disaster relief and for unilateral, low intensity amphibious operations.
I am persuaded that there is a case for new, big ships in the Royal Canadian Navy … we had them from 1943 (HMS Nabob was a British aircraft carrier commanded and crewed by Canadians) through HMCS Magnificent (1948-57) until HMCS Bonaventure (1957 to 1970). I suspect that the military case for such ships is fairly easy to make, but the political case would be much more difficult ~ likely impossible in an election year.