Two Point class ships have transported over 200 vehicles for Exercise Saif Sareea 3 which will take place across Oman in October and November 2018.

Saif Sareea 3 (SS3) is the third UK-Oman joint exercise, with the previous 2 taking place in 1986 and 2001. SS3 is the UK armed forces lead exercise this year and the largest joint exercise of its kind in 17 years.

Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle being transported from the Port to the Joint Logistics Support Base in Duqm.

The exercise, culminating in a ‘firepower demonstration’, will test the UK and Sultanate’s ability to operate together in austere conditions through the deployment of a Coalition Joint Task Force, say the Ministry of Defence.

“The 2 RORO ships which arrived this week in Duqm left the military port in Marchwood, near Southampton, in late July. The ships sailed into the Port of Duqm on the 10 and 14 August, each with a cargo of over 3,500 tonnes.

The cargo included vehicles such as Warrior armoured fighting vehicles, Scimitar CVRT (combat vehicle reconnaissance tracked) and Bulldog personnel carriers. Over 200 vehicles were unloaded from the ship belonging to:

  • 1 Mercian
  • 22 Royal Engineers
  • Royal Tank Regiment
  • 40 Commando Royal Marines
  • Commando Helicopter Force

The vehicles and other logistical equipment will be transported onwards to the Joint Logistics Support Base in Duqm and other locations ahead of the start of the exercise in October.”

The Point class sealift ships are designed for the strategic transport of military cargo and vehicles. Four ships were built by the German company Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft and two built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. They replaced the RFA Sea Centurion and Sea Crusader in service.

Picture shows Merchant Vessel Hartland Point carrying military equipment in support of Cougar 12 in the Mediterranean Sea.

The full six-ship service was only to be required for major operations and exercises which prompted the MoD to pursue a contract for their long term service under the Private Finance Initiative.

Point class ship at Mare Harbour in the Falklands.

Under the contract the provider can make ships available for commercial service with other companies at times when they are not needed by MoD, two of the ships however have been let go from this arrangement leaving the MoD with only four should they be required.

The vessels have 2,650 linear metres of space for vehicles which is able to house 130 armoured vehicles and 60 trucks and ammunition or 8,000 tonnes of vehicles.


  1. These were the last ships to be built in Belfast if memory serves me rifgt. Pity all 6 where not built there I actually thought the rest where built in England.

  2. Shocking indictment that our lead mechanised forces are still rumbling round in CVRT and Bulldog. That’s really going to make adversaries tremble.

    Roll on Ajax and Boxer.

  3. Points are awesome. Simple ‘power train’. Good speed / endurance, better than the Bay’s or Albion’s.

    These modern fast Ro-Ro ferry designs offer a lot of flexibility for navies wanting a large auxiliary. See USN’s Maritime Support Vessel (MSV) M/V Cragside converted by Maersk for about £60 million.

  4. Agree about CVRT and the mortar carrier Bulldog. A bloody mortar mobile carrier! Stick a bren gun on the front why don’t we. Scimitars were obselete decades ago but let’s deploy them anyway because they can shoot their 30mm guns and scoot faster than anything else. Man up, tool up MOD.

    • I keep reading comments about the CVRT being old, but old doesn’t by itself mean incapable. The US has platforms that are older (e.g. B52 bomber) and yet are more than capable of doing their role. I am not saying that the CVRT is not outdated, but can we have some better analysis than its old. What is its capability weaknesses and what upgrades are needed.

      My personal view is that land based Reconnaissance vehicles as a capability is outdated and extremely risky in the event of a near peer or worse conflict, simply because guided missiles make the idea of legging it once you see the enemy very dangerous in anything other than a MBT level of armor, better to get a high view from the air and see a wider area from further back. My fear is that (it happened in WW1 and WW2, the old ideas were rapidly demonstrated to be ineffective to modern for the time thinking).

      • Steve, completely agree with you on that, during WW2 we used a tank regiment for recce that had the same tanks as the armoured regiment. Tactics have changed tho, we are now a lot more kinetic when it comes to reconnaissance, shame the tactics don’t fit the vehicle (yet).

        So what can I say about CVR? yes its old (propper old) but it is not the same platform that left the factories all those yeas ago. The sights have been upgraded multiple times, the coms kit is fairly new and has a modern diesel engine.

        They are a few myths flying around. It is not as fast as people think, no where near as fast as a Chally which causes problems with maintaining the recce gap after obstacle crossings for example. Protection is virtually none existent, but will take 7.62 and frag. Firepower is a bit hit or miss (excuse the pun), no powered trav, basic fire control and a very low practical rate of fire. It can however punch through most AFVs its likely to come up against.

        Ajax cannot come soon enough.


    • The latest edition of Defence Technology Review has some interesting in-depth articles about the contenders for the Australian Army’s Land 400 Phase 3 to acquire 400 IFV’s to replace the ageing but recently upgraded M113AS’s whose lineage dates back to Vietnam.

      Given the Rheinmettal’s win of phase 2 with the Boxer, their Lynx KF41 would seem to be the frontrunner, especially given the commonality of the Lance turret offerings and mandated Spike LR2 ATGMs to be fitted to both types.

      Plus its unique Rheinmettal party trick (like the Boxer) where the mission module, including the turret, can be lifted off the chassis and replaced with a different variant (e.g. command etc.) overnight (8 hour changeover).

      Interestingly a variant of the Ajax is now likely to be a strong contender given that it is set to be the only manufacturer that can offer the full range of variants required (including ambulance and engineering etc.) and the extensive testing already undertaken for the British Army.

      CV90 and a new Korean IFV also likely to be bid for LAND 400. The magazine also discusses the push by the Australian Army to replace its current M1A1s with M1A2 Sep 3 variants and potentially in greater numbers.

      The introduction of the IFVs will complete the transition of the Australian Army from a light infantry force to a mechanised one.

  5. I do t mean to be picky, but I think the first Swift Sword was in 96 with the advent of the JRDF not 1986 as stated. That was BAOR and Cold War days and we were not interested in deploying mechanized forces to the Middle East then.

  6. I disagree with Steve. Recce is essential for Land Forces and multiple assets are required, including armoured recce vehicles. Certainly aerial surveillance provides a long and wide view, but they are vulnerable and affected by bad weather. Traditionally we conduct recce by stealth, so the vehicles would not expose themselves to enemy fire including ATGW. Also there is no substitute for the Mk. 1 eyeball forward in the battlespace.


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