British assault ship HMS Albion has sailed to lead the Littoral Response Group (North), an amphibious task force designed to rapidly deploy Commandos where needed.
The vessel departed yesterday evening.
— HMS Albion (@hms_albion) January 10, 2022
The primary function of the Albion class is to embark, transport, deploy and recover troops and their equipment. Each ship can host 305 troops with an overload of a further 405. The class features a vehicle deck capacity of up to six tanks or around 30 armoured all-terrain vehicles.
The Albion’s also feature a floodable well dock, with the capacity to take either four utility landing craft (each capable of carrying a Challenger 2 tank) or shelter a hovercraft landing craft. Four smaller landing craft are positioned on port and starboard davits, each capable of carrying 35 troops. Each ship features a two-spot 64m flight deck able to take medium support helicopters and stow a third or operate a Chinook. However, the Albion design does not have a hangar.
What is the UK Response Group?
The Defence Command Paper defines a Response Group as “A bespoke force assigned to a geographical area, that contains dedicated shipping, helicopters and boats”. The UK Response Group has also been known as the Littoral Response Group (North).
According to the Royal Navy, under plans announced in the recent defence review, there will eventually be two Littoral Response Groups (North and South) regularly deployed in regions of strategic importance to the UK, one with a focus on European waters (North) and the other looking to the east and south of the Suez Canal (South).
“They are designed to put the UK’s commando forces in forward positions, where they will be able to react quickly to any crises but also continually work with allies. This is part of the Future Commando Force modernisation, which returns Royal Marines to raiders from the sea, equips them for a new era of combat and places them in forward positions important to UK security.”
Previously when the Response Group (North) sailed, it was made up of amphibious assault ship HMS Albion and landing dock RFA Mounts Bay, plus Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron, and Royal Marines from 45 and 30 Commando.
Littoral Response Group (South), when formed in 2023, will be based at the UK Joint Logistics Support Base in Oman with responsibility for the Indo-Pacific region.