BDK is worse than a car carrier

Project 1174 large landing ship. In this case – “Saratov”. Launched in 1964, that is, the ship is 56 years old. Surprisingly, he is still afloat. Photo: Artem Balabin

Discussion of the advantages and advantages of the Sunrise Ace type car carrier for military transport in the previous article very clearly demonstrated the curious and quite common phenomenon of a priori judgment. Although I focused on the advantages of a car carrier and did not go too far into comparing it with other types of ships commonly used in military transport, some commentators began to impose this comparison, and in a markedly negative spirit. They say, why talk about this ship at all, when there are ro-rokers and large landing ships (BDK).


Car carrier Carnation Ace

Nobody bothered them to make a comparison, even if it was thesis, in order to support their judgment, but this was not done. One got the impression that both the ro-ro cruiser and the large landing ship, in the minds of some of my opponents, are such unattainable ideals that no other ship can compare with. Simply, one might say, a shining ideal that any comparison offends.

In my opinion, this is precisely that a priori judgment, generated by the fact that its supporters have once and somewhere read laudatory articles about roller-blast vehicles or BDK, on ​​this they formed their views, not going into details.

Therefore, let us compare the BDK and the car carrier as military transport vessels. I also have something to say on roller-blades, especially since there are some non-obvious nuances, but this is somehow later, another time. Now the focus of attention is on the BDK. I put my opinion in the headline partly in order to ignite the discussion: the BDK is worse than a car carrier, and noticeably.

BDK is much smaller

Let’s start with the fact that the Project 1174 large landing craft is noticeably smaller than the car carrier. The full displacement of the large landing craft is 4.3 thousand tons, the car carrier is 60.9 thousand tons, that is, 14 times less.

Accordingly, the large landing craft has less carrying capacity. It can take on board 22 tanks and 25 armored personnel carriers, which will amount to 1,373 tons. The carrying capacity of the Sunrise Ace (if we count the capacity of passenger cars in 5196 units and the average weight of a car of 1.5 tons) is 7794 tons, that is, 5.6 times more than that of the large landing craft.

Opponents must have been confused by the fact that the car carrier has 45 cargo spaces for equipment weighing 50 tons. This is true. But this is a half full glass situation. The weight of 45 tanks taken on board will be 2095.5 tons, or 26.8% of the carrying capacity. There is still 5702 tons of carrying capacity, which can be filled with other cargo: light armored vehicles, trucks, ammunition, food, personnel. The free carrying capacity of the car carrier after loading the tanks is more than four times more than the BDK can accept.

This could be the end. A vessel with a lower carrying capacity cannot be better than a vessel with a higher carrying capacity, and the somewhat greater convenience in unloading the large landing craft due to the retractable bow ramp does not compensate for this.

How many tanks can you load?

Although the exact data on the plan for the loading of the large landing ship has not been published, nevertheless, it is possible to estimate the capabilities of this ship approximately, based on the dimensions of the tank hold, docking chamber and upper deck.

So, the tank hold is 54 meters long and 12 meters wide (648 square meters), the dock chamber is 75 meters long and 12 meters wide (900 square meters) and the upper deck is about 40 meters long and 12 meters wide (480 square meters). A total of 2028 sq. meters. According to other published data: the hold is 790 sq. meters, docking camera – 1195 sq. meters, upper deck – 405 sq. meters, total 2390 sq. meters.


BDK project 1174 scheme: 12 – bow cargo holds, 29 – docking chamber, 24 – interdeck gangway

In general, the data on the loading of the large landing craft differ. Here is data from the reference book “Ships of the USSR Navy” (vol. 4) that the project 1174 large landing craft can accommodate cargo in three versions. The first – 22 tanks and 25 armored personnel carriers; the second – 50 armored personnel carriers; the third – 52 trucks. The carrying capacity according to the first option will be 1373 tons, according to the second – 700 tons, according to the third – 426.4 tons. This handbook also indicates that the load on the interdeck gangway does not exceed 12 tons, that is, it is impossible to drive tanks onto the deck. In general, what did the designers of this miracle of technology think about? Well, they would have made a gangway for 50 tons and a strong deck for tanks, with the ability to shoot from tanks directly from the deck.

When we begin to consider the issue in detail, it turns out that even in tank capacity, the BDK has no advantages over a car carrier. Sunrise Ace can take twice as many tanks as large landing ships. Which, in general, is completely unsurprising due to the sharp difference in size.

Phenomenal capacity of just one deck of a car carrier

Unlike many of my opponents, who see themselves as fearless fighters in battle, I imagine myself as a rear rat, which, sniffing and wiggling its antennae, does all the boring bookkeeping. So I just started calculating how much everything can fit on one deck of a car carrier. 3rd deck – 5883 sq. meters of area, height 2.1 meters.

BDK is worse than a car carrier
Car carrier diagram

Tank shells. A box about 80 cm long, 40 cm wide and 20 cm high, in which two shots are fired, gross weight 100 kg. The ammunition capacity of the tank is 39 shots, that is, the tank needs 20 boxes. A stack of two boxes per sq. meter and 6 tiers in height (12 boxes – 1.2 tons). Taking into account the six-meter passage for loaders, we have 4900 sq. meters of deck area for cargo. Total: 39,200 boxes, or 78,400 rounds, which is enough for 2010 tanks.

Howitzer 122-mm shells (2S1 “Carnation”). Box 1.6 meters long, 40 cm wide, 20 cm high, two shots, gross weight 70 kg. A stack of two boxes for 2 sq. meters and 8 tiers in height (16 boxes – 1.1 tons). 19,600 boxes or 39,200 rounds, which is enough for 980 self-propelled guns.

Cartridges 5.45 mm. Box 48 cm long, 35 cm wide, 10 cm high, 2160 rounds, gross weight 29 kg. Stack of 4 boxes per sq. meter and 8 tiers in height (32 boxes – 928 kg). In total, there are 156,800 boxes, or 338.6 million pieces of cartridges. This is enough for a million-strong army.

Fuel in 200 liter drums. Width and length 60 cm, height 80 cm, gross weight 180 kg. Stack of 9 barrels per 4 sq. meters and two tiers in height (18 barrels – 3.2 tons). A total of 22,050 barrels, or 4,410,000 liters, which is enough for 2,756 tanks.

Food, ration IRP-B. Box 70 cm long, 20 cm wide and 25 cm high, inside 7 individual rations, gross weight 14.7 kg. Stack of 4 boxes per sq. meter and 8 tiers in height (32 boxes – 470.4 kg). 156,800 boxes or 1,097,000 individual rations.

This is only one deck. So tightly you can stuff at least two decks or more freely distribute the cargo over 5-6 decks for better stability of the vessel. The cartridges turned out to be the heaviest load, and it is better to place it on the lower decks, from 8th to 11th.

How is it? Will so much ammunition, fuel and food fit into the large landing craft? If cargo is loaded into the BDK at any of the above positions, then the ship will simply sink under its weight. The car carrier will withstand any of the above-described cargo positions.

About the brigade loading plan

Let’s finish with rough calculations and move on to a more or less realistic loading plan. We have an airborne assault brigade, in which 2,700 personnel, 13 T-72 tanks, 33 BMDs, 46 BMPs, 10 BTR-82A, 18 BTR-D, 6 self-propelled guns 2S9 “Nona”, 8 ZSU-23 “Shilka” … This is a full-fledged part, ready to fight.

The weight:
– personnel: 270 tons (based on 100 kg per person);
– machinery: 2018.3 tons.
Total: 2288.3 tons, or 29.3% of the total lifting capacity.

This means that you can also take with you various supplies for life and combat. In the calculations, I proceed from 5 fuel fillings, 3 rounds of ammunition and 5 rounds of ammunition, 10 days of food supplies. Is it climbing or not? Let’s count.

The total refueling is 75900 liters for all equipment, or 380 barrels in a round number. Five refueling stations will be 1900 barrels, or 342 tons of cargo.

Ammunition is more difficult to calculate. But with all the available data, it turned out 507 tank shells, 150 shells for the 2S9 howitzer, 32.9 thousand 30 mm shells, 16 thousand 23 mm shells, 5000 rounds of 14.5 mm, 82 thousand rounds of 7.62 mm. All together it will weigh 78.9 tons in boxes, or, in round numbers, 80 tons. Three BC for equipment – 240 tons. Ammunition for machine guns and assault rifles can be estimated at 665 thousand rounds, or 9.2 tons of weight. 5 BC – 46 tons.

Food. 27 thousand individual rations for 10 days or 3857 boxes. Only 56.7 tons of weight.

The total stocks of the brigade for a decent offensive operation will be, by and large, 685 tons. In fact, a little more, taking into account mortars, grenade launchers, cars, all kinds of equipment, and so on – about 1000 tons.

In the end, we got 3288 tons of cargo, which is an airborne assault brigade with everything it needs. Or 42% of the vessel’s carrying capacity. That is, everything fits, and with a solid margin. You can take more shells, cartridges, fuel, food. All this cargo is freely placed on the decks, you can work with it with forklifts and load cars with them directly on the ship.

Tanks, armored vehicles and trucks – on the 7th and 5th decks, shells and cartridges – down, on the 8th – 11th decks, fuel – on the 6th and 4th decks, food and personnel on the very top, from the 1st to the 3rd decks.

This is the main military transport advantage of the car carrier over the BDK. A car carrier can land a whole brigade with all the equipment and supplies, equipped for an offensive and intense multi-day battles. As the initial ratios for fuel and ammunition, I took real data on the consumption of one or the other during major offensive operations during the Great Patriotic War.

The BDK can only land a battalion. Moreover, he will not have a large supply with him and can only count on one refueling, one ammunition load and what can be stuffed into equipment or into pockets with backpacks. No, of course, you can stuff about 250 tons of additional ammunition, fuel and food in boxes and barrels on decks, in holds, in corners, in the cockpits of the large landing craft. But only to unload all this stuff there will be no one and nothing. The paratroopers need to fight, and you will have to turn them temporarily into loaders. If you dispense with an additional reserve, as it was, apparently, and was assumed in the design of the large landing craft, then with one refueling and one ammo, the enemy will quite easily break you. There will be another foothold, strewn with bones.

How can you even think that 400 is more than 2700? How can you say that a ship that disembarks a battalion is better than a ship that disembarks an entire brigade? There is even nothing to compare. The BDK is a ship with a narrow specialization, and it is only good within this framework. As a transport, it cannot be compared with a car carrier.

In operational and tactical terms, in the framework of landing operations, large landing ships and car carriers, together with other ships, must act together. Let’s say that we have amphibious forces in the amount of three brigades – 8.1 thousand people. 1 thousand of them were planted on four large landing ships, and its tasks include seizing the port and ensuring the disembarkation of two other brigades, which are on two car carriers. They also carry additional supplies for the brigade operating from the BDK. Their task is to catch on to the shore, seize a port or a place where car carriers can unload. The two brigades that left them are advancing, expanding the bridgehead and creating the necessary conditions for the transfer of large formations.

If the landing on the BDK does not have large transports with troops that will support it and develop its success, then this landing is doomed to defeat and inglorious death.

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