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Not a Sig Op said:....
Beyond that, what purpose would it even serve? We have no marines.
If it's just something to wave the flag and feel good about in the crappies parts of the earth, then why dump it on the military?
I will not argue the requirement for a large floating military hospital. As noted the military isn't big enough to need it.
I continually hear concerns from the fighting forces that they can't get they stuff they need where and when they need it. The logistics piece of the puzzle. And yet nobody ever seems to want to spend the money on the cargo lift.
This type of ship, could just as easily be a variant of a JSS/LPD like HMS Argus. You could get the planning for the LPD done by commissioning the Hospital Ship variant out of the gate first.
And I am not of the opinion that air lifting 1CFH is an equivalent solution, as the C17s need a secure strip to land on and then the strip needs a security force to keep it secure. And helicopters are going to be in demand if the situation is such that a large hospital is required to manage a large number of casualties.
Your current army may not need a large logistics capability but it comes in very handy very fast. And when you aren't using it then it can be quite useful in domestic emergencies and in making friends overseas.
I daresay that there have been numerous occasions when civil authorities would have much preferred to see a battalion of truck drivers and their vehicles show up than a battalion of infanteers. And DFAIT would no doubt have much preferred to have an LPD/H with a good sized hospital facility in containers on board to offer to New Orleans or Haiti.
It is argued that SAR, as conducted by the CAF, is not a military function and yet I hear that you don't want to get rid of the function because you fear losing the budget. But the budget isn't serving any useful military function. So you have already "lost" that money. Except that it also bought 15 helicopters that could be used for other military functions if repainted and you have a corps of very proficient personnel that have a unique set of skills.
The more I see of the discussions the more I think that the Logistics Branch should be its own service with its own fleet of aircraft, ships and trucks. Because everyone in the fighting forces seems to want to spend money on guns even if it means there is no money to deliver bullets to the guns.
And strangely enough those militarized civilian functions that you need to be able to spool up rapidly are the very areas where a part-time force of civilians could come in handy.