Assault ship, HMS Albion, has met with French helicopter carrier Dixmude and her escort along with some of the French ships embarked forces and aircraft, that happen to be British.

In the coming months HMS Albion, alongside HMS Sutherland, will be contributing to the international efforts to monitor prohibited trading at sea by the DPRK, which provides a major source of funding for its illegal nuclear programme. While in the region, both vessels will visit several ports and take part in joint training with allies and partners, including the US, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

HMS Argyll will arrive in the region later in the year, when she will participate in a Five Power Defence Arrangements exercise with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore before also travelling to North East Asia for further joint training and exercises. The deployment of these three ships will mean that the Royal Navy will have a vessel in the strategically critical Asia-Pacific region for the first time since 2013 and will have an almost unbroken presence there this year. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced earlier in the month that HMS Albion has deployed to North East Asia to ‘safeguard free trade, partake in joint training and exercises, and support UN sanctions’ against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“Our Armed Forces are at the forefront of Global Britain, and the deployment of HMS Albion, Sutherland and Argyll demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our international responsibilities and to maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the region. Until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions, the UK will continue working closely with partners and allies to keep up pressure and strictly enforce existing sanctions, ensuring not only regional security but that of the UK as well.”

In the words of her operators, the Royal Navy, the role of the HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, is to ‘deliver the punch of the Royal Marines ashore by air and by sea, with boats from the landing dock in the belly of the ship and by assault helicopter from the two-spot flight deck’.

40 Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel and two Wildcat helicopters joined the French naval task force for a five-month mission earlier in the year. The flagship of the deployment, helicopter assault ship FS Dixmude, left her home in Toulon today bound the Middle East and ultimately the South Pacific.

“The 30-strong detachment of Brits, led by Lieutenant Mike Wells, left home at RNAS Yeovilton last week for the two-day flight down to the south of France to join 50 US marines, two Spanish Cougar helicopters and 133 French officer cadets who are beginning their operational training.

The ship’s port calls will include Jakarta, Bali, Darwin, Saigon and Singapore. British personnel will take part in amphibious exercises and Defence Engagement. This builds on the UK’s very successful participation in last year’s Jeanne D’Arc mission.

The UK’s contribution to France’s annual Jeanne D’Arc naval deployment demonstrates a shared commitment from both countries to enhance their maritime cooperation in home waters and around the world, in support of global security and prosperity and protection of freedom of navigation.

This priority was agreed at the UK-France Summit in January 2018.”

The deployment is part of the UK’s programme of bilateral defence cooperation with French forces, which includes the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a rapidly deployable joint UK-French force that can respond to crises.

British and French forces also operate together as members of NATO, with France agreeing to contribute troops to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia in 2019.

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Helions
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Helions

Nice photo! Wonder if they’ll meet up with the USS Wasp upgunned ESG from the 7th Fleet out of Yokosuka. THAT would be a picture…

Cheers!

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

So when can we expect the Wildcats to get their Sea Martlets and Sea Venom?

Chris
Guest
Chris

I think they already have Sea Martlet and are just waiting on Sea Venom to finish off trials (I think it was first test launched last year). I could be wrong about that however.

David Nicholls
Guest
David Nicholls

I think they are waiting for the installation of the new weapons carrier (“wing”) that Leonardo showed off a few months ago. Due for installation from the end of this year?

Helions
Guest
Helions

It’s deploying for the first time with the first Marine F35B’s. Better yet, it would REALLY irritate the PLAN…

Cheers!

Lee H
Guest
Lee H

Almost like these things could be planned…..
A USN assault ship (LPH) filled with USMC meeting up with an RN assault ship (LPD) filled with RM operating thousands of miles from home, imagine if the French were there as well with an assault ship filled with FM.

You could almost feel a photo op coming.
3 independent nations, far from home operating together. They should do this more often……

Helions
Guest
Helions

Add the RAN and the JMSDF to the mix and sail them past certain glorified sandbars in the SCS and you’d almost think it were “planned”… 😀 Keeping my fingers crossed.

Cheers!

Lee H
Guest
Lee H

“Global Britain”
Like I said in earlier posts you are going to hear a lot more on this.
Stand by for Fusion Doctrine and others coming, HMG is starting to step out of the post referendum blues and pull its collective finger out

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Let’s hope so. Unless it is all torpedoed by HM opposition playing party politics and oopposing every brexit vote in the Commons, leaving the UK in the EU in all but name.

Riga
Guest
Riga

Operating closely MN, opersting from their decks… the plan could actually be to ditch the RN platforms…

AND. This is a great website. Does politics have rear its head? I’m a remainer.

Lee H
Guest
Lee H

Remainer or leave, don’t care.
Politics is on the website, but I would hope the over riding theme of the website is defence matters and how they affect the U.K.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Or be relegated to “the Dustbin of History”…

Cheers!

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John Stevens
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John Stevens

Hi Paul.. Think the RN will receive the martlet and venom missiles around 2020.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I had the impression Martlet was good to go and a vague memory they are waiting for Venom so they can fit both missile interfaces in one go on a common launcher; which would reconcile with Chris comment ..if my memory is sound of course. Always a problem.

Helions
Guest
Helions
Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Good reading cheers.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Good post.

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

Indeed, very good reading thank.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Thank you all.

Cheers!

Expat
Guest
Expat

HMS Albion looks small compared to a Mistral class even though the piture shows her in the foreground.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I assume LPDs are smaller than LPHs.

Rick O'shea
Guest
Rick O'shea

It’s an LPD and a LHD, there is no LPH in the photo

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

They have about the same displacement at full load. Mistral has an extra deck for the helos which is why she is taller.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Is this the same type the French were going to sell to Russia

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Yes, I think so. They ended up selling two to Egypt.

T.S
Guest

The mistral looks like a right lump. Where’s the French design flair lol

Steve
Guest
Steve

I wonder what is aboard ocean. It seems no helicopters, as they had to rely on ones based in the area to take the photos and no sign of the Sutherland (i assume not there yet), but what about Marines?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

It’s not Ocean she’s sold to Brazil and is a different type any way

Steve
Guest
Steve

Typo due to tiredness, meant albion, however point remains.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Typo or freudian slip? Saw the Mistral, thought “we had a dedicated helicopter carrier not long ago”, and the subconscious and fingers did the rest :-)?

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

No helicopters, the two in the photos are currently deployed with The French.

Sutherland was recently in Japan.

JohnStevens
Guest
JohnStevens

Ocean ? um

JohnStevens
Guest
JohnStevens

Not sure how many Marines are on Albion this time Steve, would be interesting to know.

JohnStevens
Guest
JohnStevens

Just been reading the crew of the Albion was around 600 sailors and marines when they left the UK.. So i would of thought there would be a handy amount of marines aboard ship but not sure about exact numbers.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Albion is meant to have a crew of around 300, so i assume somewhere between 2 and 3 hundred marines including support staff.

Julian
Guest
Julian

She’s an impressive ship, especially with what Gunbuster told us about the scale of her command & control facilities, but would it have been that big an incremental cost to have stretched her enough to allow volume for at least some hangar space? Maybe the rationale was that in a mass assault 2 or 3 Merlin are noise but in peacetime roles the difference between being able to embark even a single helicopter or not seems pretty stark.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I think this issue has been discussed at length in the demise of HMS Ocean. It is simply that Albion and Bulwark are what they are, LPDs. They were never envisaged to be LHDs so only have effectively helo lily pads. The LPD concept is perfectly valid e.g. USS San Antonio. The issue is that while the US can afford USS Americas, USS Wasps and USS San Antonio types in numbers smaller European navies can’t. Hence the emergence of Mistral and Juan Carlos LHD designs.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

No need to stretch an LPD. All you need to do is add another deck on top and transfer the offices and equipment rooms Fwd of the flight deck to that area. Then you would get a Port and Stbd hanger big enough for a Merlin or Wildcat in each .
Wont happen… though it was discussed back in the day…

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

The Booties come and go depending on exercises. They wont deploy onboard for the whole time. On previous Taurus deployments the booties flew out and joined us , did there stuff onboard and ashore then flew back on completion. To be honest there is not a lot of point having the booties around for the trip back to the UK if there are no exercises. They are a drain on the ships resources during long periods of inactivity and expensive to feed and keep happy. Booties are happiest crawling around in jungle eating food out of a RatPack not living… Read more »

Harry Nelson
Guest
Harry Nelson

Come on, some of them love their 4 meals a day, numerous “phyz” sessions, bronzing on deck and runs ashore 😉

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

That will be the lads in ASRM who are to be fair pretty switched on for Royals…:)

Andy G
Guest

Albion, and her replacement right there.

Mr J Bell
Guest
Mr J Bell

What I find very telling about the current state of the Royal Navy is that we have sent our current fleet flagship HMS Albion to the other side of the world with no escort warships.
Even the French have sent a frigate with Dixmunde.

Julian
Guest
Julian

I was struck by that as well. I see that the French escort frigate (Surcouf) is La Fayette class – 3,600t fully loaded, 125m length, 100mm gun, 2 x 20mm autocannon, 1 x medium helo, 8 missile Crotale launcher, 8 Exocet and FFBNW 16 x Aster 15. Just perhaps, if we can get a good cost-effective design and build for T31, what the French are fielding here might be somewhat comparable to our escorting one of our major vessels with a T31. In fact if we do get some Sea Ceptor actually fitted on T31 as opposed to FFBNW and… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

Ideal role for a T31 if we have enough of them of course.

Rob
Guest
Rob

lol Julian’s post didn’t show when I posted that.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Funny that we’re thinking along the same lines. I also had the “if we have enough of them” thought too. On the numbers thing, although we’d all like more, maybe we don’t actually need more and even maintaining the 13 frigate total (8 T26 + 5 T31) will yield an improvement. The same number of frigates might yield at least one extra vessel deployable at any given time due to reduced crew requirements meaning less likelihood of not being able to crew all vessels due to personnel shortages and possibly also newer ships giving fewer unexpected maintenance hiccups causing delays… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

We have 13 frigates which would be enough to cover this activity, if we had all of them actually crewed. Having multiple ships alongside at a time where the navy is being asked to show the flag across a wider area is just nonsense but it is what it is.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Agreed. T26 is said (by Wikipedia) to have a basic crew complement of 118 and BMT quotes Venator 110 (for instance) with a basic crew of 85 + 10 for helo ops/maintenance so using 95 for the T31 estimate gives a total crew requirement for 8 x T26 plus 5 x T31 of 1,419. Wikipedia lists a T23’s core crew as 185 so even assuming current personnel shortages are such that we can actually only crew 10 x T23 at the moment that still gives 1,850 people released from T23, enough to crew 8 x T26 plus 9 x T31… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Ok hear’th begins the naval manpower lesson! You start with a watch and station bill. That details firstly all the jobs onboard that require manning up at action stations. So that basically is bums on seats in the ops room, people in firefighting/damage control party, weapon aimers/loaders, Engine watch keepers, the flight deck crew. That will be everyone onboard. So for a 85 crew frigate it would be something like ( I am guessing here) 5 on the Bridge 10 on the flight deck 15-20 in the ops room/ radio room 6 upper deck guns crew aimers and loaders 10… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

Thanks Gunbuster. Really interesting, if somewhat depressing re the RN issues. I read a while back some posts somewhere on another forum expressing some scepticism about the whole lean-manning concept with respect to maintenance. The concern was that in order to operate a ship with fewer crew on board one thing that would get cut would be some of the maintenance-at-sea tasks such that, when a vessel came in after a deployment, certain bits of onboard equipment would require more work than they otherwise would have had they had a more comprehensive at-sea maintenance regime hence some of the savings… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Educational rant…

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

@Julian The RN went down the lean man road with T23. We discovered that using just shore side maintenance engineers didn’t work. The equipment availability rates at sea where nowhere near what was advertised and you had to do the maintenance or the equipment stopped working or was sub optimal in performance. T45 had CLS which is a massive financial drain. Now you have some techs on T45 who cannot fix the kit because the default position for the past 5 years was ” its broke…get BAe in to fix it ” and so there is no corporate knowledge on… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

I don’t know if it’s as low as standard commercial spec but I’m sure I read somewhere that the Mistrals aren’t built to full military spec. Is that true? If yes then what standard is Mistral built to and how does that compare to Juan Carlos/Canberra classes?

David E Flandry
Guest
David E Flandry

Lets hope that when Albion and Bulwark are replaced, it will be by two roughly 25,000 ton LPHs with troops, helicopters, command staff, and hospital. With four landing ships, the RN could put a big force ashore.