Despite mounting speculation, assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark now remain in service for another decade instead of being scrapped.

Both ships were reported to have been considered for early retirement to free up sailors for other vessels amid a recruitment crisis in the armed forces.

Andrew Rosindell, (Conservative – Romford) asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he has taken to (a) maintain and (b) improve amphibious assault capabilities.”

James Cartlidge, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence), responded:

“The Commando Force modernisation programme is delivering a fundamental change to the UK’s amphibious capabilities. The programme will be delivered in two investment increments, called OPERATE and FIGHT. OPERATE will deliver a transformation of 3 Commando Brigade’s operational capability on land while FIGHT will deliver the additional capabilities required to conduct ship-to-shore operations in a contested maritime environment.

On current plans, the Landing Platform Docks, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, will retire from service by the end of 2034. As part of the transformation of our Commando Forces, options for future amphibious capability are being developed in the form of the Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS). The Secretary of State has also commissioned a plan on how the Royal Marines excellent work and capabilities can be bolstered and enhanced to protect Britain from a world that has grown more dangerous. An update to the House will be provided in due course.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago

As some of us thought. An option presented to the SoS by the Admiralty themselves, thankfully not taken up.
I’m curious as to what “operate” and “fight” comprise, as to my eyes what was a deployable brigade, albiet with the usual gaps in CS and CSS, has become a light raiding force.
No new ship to shore connectors, no extra aviation, firepower, no extra drones with firepower, beyond the hand held ones shown in their coverage.
To me, the UK needs to be able to land on a coast with heavier elements if necessary. That is deterrence.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago

Hi Daniele, I couldn’t agree more. To me the current RM force structure is such that it draws their ability to effectively reinforce the Northern Flank into question. This is clearly a serious issue as the Northern Flank is their main NATO role. This situation illustrates the whole problem sorry situation that our glorious leaders have got us into as the UK armed forces have been so reduced as to put into question their effectiveness within the NATO question. Our service people are still amongst the best in the world, but there isn’t enough of them and they don’t have… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

With Sweden and Finland now in the NATO game is there a need for Royal to go North with quite the same urgency. I don’t think there is. Yes, reinforce the North but we now don’t need to do it quite as urgently as we once did. We also have a permanent RM base, Viking, in Norway that has reduced some of the loading for shipping stuff there.

Math
Math
3 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I think we can agree that the issue is we need more babies. Numbers of this equation are easy to get

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
5 days ago

Has this been prompted by the events in the middle east?

Andrew D
Andrew D
5 days ago

Should bloody well think so , HMG made the right decision for a change 👍 🇬🇧

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
5 days ago

Looks like it was decided at a high-level (Cabinet?) that the high political and military costs of selling the ships would greatly exceed the [relatively] small financial savings that would be achieved. The USMC hasn’t regarded the RM as a near peer since HMS Ocean was sold and 3 Cdo Bde downgraded from a combat to administrative formation. This would have been the last straw as far as close collaboration was concerned. It’s also rather misleading to claim that HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will be in service to 2034. Neither is currently operational and it’s still unclear when one will re-enter… Read more »

Patrick C
Patrick C
4 days ago

The USMC hasn’t regarded the RM as a near peer since HMS Ocean was sold and 3 Cdo Bde downgraded from a combat to administrative formation.”

I’ve never viewed them as comparable in anything but name only. they’re used completely differently aside from being amphibious. royal marines seem more comparable to a maritime us army rangers or specialized USMC units like recon battalions or raiders. the USMC has 200,000+ members and are more of an all-encompassing fighting force with organic airpower, armour, traditional infantry, special forces elements etc… sort of their own military within a military.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 days ago

Phew. Bullet dodged. Should never have ever been considered, let alone with the current international threats against our national interest.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
5 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

A depressing point is that the decommissioning and sale of the two LPD’s was apparently reluctantly offered by RN – along with axing two worn-out T23’s – as the preferred option for balancing its budget and manning constraints. Now that LPD’s will apparently be retained, will the RN get extra money or will it have to make cuts elsewhere? If the later – putting Queen Elizabeth in to extended readiness at the end of the year (allowing Bulwark to recommission) is the least worst option that I can think of.

farouk
farouk
5 days ago

The question we should all be asking is, what will this government cut and sell off instead of these two ships in which to make a killing (backhander) as they have done since 2010 regards selling off British military assets.

DeeBee
DeeBee
5 days ago

Well considering media output that we may well be heading towards WW3 I should bloody hell think so! If we aren’t spending at least 3% GDP on defence now then we never will,let’s not get caught with our pants down again!

Phil Chadwick
Phil Chadwick
5 days ago

This was all bullshit from the very beginning. Some ‘Journalist’ working for the Times had put out this sensationalist nonsense and then chaos ensued… Never believe what you are told by the bloody PRESS!!!!

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 days ago

Good news only gets 8 comments so far. When the article broke about them possibly on the chopping board, it got 200+ comments of uninformed outrage. 🤷

klonkie
klonkie
5 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Ha ha – good point Robert! 😉

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 days ago
Reply to  klonkie

😆👍

Frank
Frank
5 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

81 comments, most of them were concern.

Roy
Roy
5 days ago

“On current plans, the Landing Platform Docks, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, will retire from service by the end of 2034 …”

This will remain the policy until current plans change …

Peter S
Peter S
5 days ago

At first sight this seems to be good news. But in view of the excessive risk of beach landings described in his recent RUSI article by RM Brigadier Totten, do these ships fit into the transformation programme, led by Totten, which seeks a lighter, more dispersed commando type role for the corps? The advantage of the Albions is the ship to shore delivery of heavy weapons including MBTs. If this is no longer seen as feasible, and troops are to be inserted from longer range, their helicopter capacity is too limited.

Sjb1968
Sjb1968
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

The Corps has received very little new kit recently with some light weapons only and there is no money. There is the potential to get a proper hangar on a Bay class but if the £50m muted some time ago actually exists is highly unlikely. Meanwhile our FCF heads to the Northern flank on RFA Mounts Bay with one LCU and a single LCVP (the other might not make it because of mechanical issues). There is no risk of a Brigade landing anymore because we no longer have the ships or men. Pound for pound the best light amphibious force… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
5 days ago
Reply to  Sjb1968

I’m not sure I fully accept the views on excessive risk that have underpinned the transformation policy. Amphibious landings against heavily defended locations will indeed result in heavy casualties- they usually have in the past. But many successful landings were made on undefended shorelines, bypassing heavily defended sites. MacArthur’s campaigns in New Guinea and the landing at Inchon suffered comparatively few casualties. I take your point on the range of an LCU but even in a favourable sea state its 10 kt speed will leave troops exposed for an extended period. Helicopter or tilt rotor insertion would cover the same… Read more »

Sjb1968
Sjb1968
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

I think most people accept they are not being ‘transformed’ but rather ‘cut’ into something far smaller. Of course the LCU is a result of the need to carry an MBT but you could design something much faster and stealthy if that requirement was not imposed. ACV’s are noisy and also don’t like rough northern waters. In my opinion keeping a number of LCU”s as part of the Bays complement and it’s successor is required but I would like to see a slightly larger more capable replacement to the LCVP as the frontline ‘landing craft’. I hate the term ship… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
4 days ago
Reply to  Sjb1968

I recall a report of troops landing in Norway from an Astute which struck me as a poor use of a£1b submarine. USN special forces have been trialling the SEA LION semi submersible stealth boat which allows a small unit of up to 12 to be put ashore with low risk of detection. It can’t deliver heavy equipment of course but the USMC has given up its MBTs anyway. For anything too heavy for a Chinook, there isn’t an obvious alternative to an LPD. For once, I’m inclined to believe this isn’t about money but a genuine attempt to work… Read more »

Sjb1968
Sjb1968
4 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Your last point is interesting because the USMC/USN are still grappling with whether to use new lighter ships for the Pacific but as yet they are not laying off any LHDs or LPDs. In fact most other nations are investing in their amphibious lift. Sadly whats happening here is all to do with money and a lack of personnel. I am not convinced by the proposal for 6 MRSS vessels and for me a mix of large and small vessels may be the future, with the larger vessels perhaps being an LHD or LPH type. These could provide the over… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Sjb1968

The Bays I believe can only carry one LCU and Mexefloats.
LPDs have 4 and the 4 LCVP too.
It is also vital that 17 PMR RLC is maintained as they give us the expertise on moving heavier stuff into a port or beach.
Agree on your points.

Sjb1968
Sjb1968
5 days ago

Your right on the load capabilities, the Bays can put a couple of LCVPs on the deck and that is what is planned for the deployment to Norway plus a single LCU.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Sjb1968

And they lack the C3 of the LPDs. No substitute at all, though still valuable vessels.

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago

Sorry to put a downer on it chaps, but we have a general election coming this year, with a probable change of government, followed by their own SDSR next year. What this dying government promises isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Albion and Bulwark are far from safe unfortunately. We will know which way the wind blows re the future of Amphibious forces in SDSR 2025, in the meantime, I suspect the new administration will carry on the time honoured heaping up of bullshit smoke and mirrors and kicking the good old can further down the road… Same old… Read more »

Expat
Expat
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Labour have invented something called the NATO test according to John Healey’s RUSI comments. We’ll only find out what that means post their first SDSR, it’ll look good for the general public in a manifesto.. ‘ooohh look the NATO test that’ll be good’ but unless the parameters of the tests a publish we won’t have cooking clue what we’ll end up with.

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago
Reply to  Expat

The “NATO test”, more political PR bullshit sounds like a vague commitment to 2% GDP on defence and suggests a European pivot?

What will that mean for SDSR 2025 I wonder??

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Agree. Though I best keep my mouth shut, as I get told off.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Expat

I remember NATO’s ORT (Operational Readiness Test) very well from my time in BAOR. They were very tough and thorough. Does the ORT still happen? Is this what Healey is referrring to?

Expat
Expat
3 minutes ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not sure, I think it’s a new test to be designed by Labour around capability.

our Armed Forces without the equipment and troops they need to fight and to fulfil our NATO obligations,” Secretary Healey said. “Our ‘NATO test’ will be the foundation for Labor government action to ensure Britain meets our obligations to the Alliance in full as the cornerstone of our collective security.

However not sure Labour will count the Pacific coast of US and Canada as part of NATO. 😀

Adrian
Adrian
5 days ago

‘By the end of 2034’?
1st Feb 2024 meets that criterion.

I’d prefer a ‘not before capability achieved/date’ myself

Rob
Rob
5 days ago

Russia, China, North Korea and violent Islamic countries are arming up as fast as possible. Why on earth would the UK even consider scrapping the ships and downsizing the Royal Navy in these very dangerous times???? Beggars belief. Who the hell is in charge.??

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I don’t think anyone is in charge Rob, incompetent idiots the lot of them…..

DP
DP
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I recall watching Grant Shapps on TV debating (in Parliament) a point raised about the sense of upgrading the LPDs when their out-of-service date was mid-way through the next decade, only roughly 10 years away. Given the MoD’s habit of delivering replacements late, I dare say it would definitely be money well spent, especially in the current climate. Now more than ever we need capability overlap rather than capability gap! More money to fund all such schemes and better recruitment to-boot.

Ian
Ian
5 days ago

‘If you want us to stay within our budget then we will have to make some cuts. Here are the various politically untenable options that exist to do that’ is a tactic the armed forces have used repeatedly over the years, with varying degrees of success.

BigH1979
BigH1979
5 days ago
Reply to  Ian

A very astute observation Ian.

In the same vein im suprised the headline from the PR machine didn’t read ‘Government saves UK Amphibious Capability from Axe’.

Frank62
Frank62
5 days ago

About time we get on with ordering replacements. A couple of small LHDs would be a sensible move, something similar to the Mistrals.
Nothing “Agile” about cutting amphibious capabilities. Thanks goodnes HMG saw sense.

David Barry
David Barry
5 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

Sense? They saw political gamble. However, the Royal Navy are playing fast and loose with ROYAL PIDs as well; that is despicable.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

It is the politicians that set manpower ceilings for each service. It might be that the Admiralty is suppressing RM numbers to bolster RN numbers though, so they can crew a few ships.

David Barry
David Barry
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Exactly what has happened and will happen; despicable.

David Barry
David Barry
5 days ago

Is there a General Election, the self proclaimed ‘Party of Defence’ are taking part in, this year?

Tim
Tim
4 days ago

Common sense prevailed at last

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
4 days ago

Is there any scope to reduce the crew requirements? I assume the numbers quoted include the command staff, dock operators etc and that these won’t be needed for every mission?

Derek Grieve
Derek Grieve
3 days ago

Just to add my tuppence worth. They say that the RN do not have enough sailors to man the ships. There are many jobs onboard that could be done by Marine personnel freeing off many sailors to man with a reduced crew should all the Marines be required. Just saying.

S5107
S5107
2 days ago
Reply to  Derek Grieve

What in god’s name are you on about. The RM are not ships crew sailors. The RM are a commando raiding force. What’s the point in putting them on ships to do a matloes job!!!!!! This would shed recruitment and retention even more !!!! Shows you know absolutely nothing about the RM coming out with crap like that!

Derek Grieve
Derek Grieve
2 days ago
Reply to  S5107

You must be a booty. And I didn’t even mention crayons or band instruments. We all know bootnecks can’t do matelot’s jobs. I have worked with them in several capacities and many parts of the world. I understand what used to make them tick. Sounds like all the fun banter has been lost.

S5107
S5107
2 days ago
Reply to  Derek Grieve

If this was a bite and I’ve missed the point then fair enough, I completely take it back and wind my neck in but people these days would seriously suggest this….

Derek Grieve
Derek Grieve
2 days ago
Reply to  S5107

LOL. I agree with you. There are many arm chair warriors out there who think they understand the military because they play those war games on their computers. It’s just like in the field when things happen all looks so very different afterwards. You should have done this or that but doesn’t take into consideration what was happening all around you and the pressure to perform in micro seconds. Just like the bean counters and politicians, most of whom have never served of seen active service and have no experience of what is required and what needs to be done… Read more »

DC647
DC647
1 day ago

Common sense actually wins out in this case, but knowing this government they’ll change their minds next week.