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.

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.

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. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Wolf
Wolf
2 months ago

Which vessel would lead the Littoral Response Group (South), would it be one of the Bays?

Last edited 2 months ago by Wolf
Mr Mark Franks
Mr Mark Franks
2 months ago
Reply to  Wolf

That’s the question which is yet to be answered. One of the bays is most likely, is it Mounts Bay that is slated for conversion?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Wolf

Yes.

Ideally each LRG would have a LPD and a Bay, plus escort.
But with only 1 LPD in use that will be for LRG (N) as shown.
I still hope the 2nd LPD may be reactivated.

In a major scenario like the Falklands both LRG can combine to form the LSG, with carrier support.

Wolf
Wolf
2 months ago

Yes, that would be good.
Question – If the money was available do you think LHDs (similar to the French ‘Mistral-class’) could be good Albion-class replacements or would it be better for the RN to stick to the MRSS programme?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Wolf

We need an LPH, no question. A pair of Mistral would seem like an excellent addition, though that is just my opinion. The obvious weakness of the LRG’s is lack of aviation support and suitable shipping to carry them. And aviation is what you assume the FCF will be needing in their raiding, interventions. It is always a question of money, so I think the RN will probably stick with MRSS. The idea seems to be more smaller targets dispersing your assets. But will a MRSS have the C3 facilities the Albion’s provide? Or the magazine space? Or a well… Read more »

Wolf
Wolf
2 months ago

When I watched this I thought, this is what the RN needs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqQzpgVY_ks&t=23s

Gareth
Gareth
2 months ago

We should never have sold HMS Ocean. That ship had plenty of life left in it.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Ideally, yes. I believe Oceans crew have contributed to us operating both carriers, mind, as earlier in CS it was not believed both would be crewed.

As to her material state, reports differ.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago

China seems to be building this type of vessel at speed. If only we had the money.

Type 075 LHD
https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/01/plan-in-motion-chinese-navys-massive-ship-commissionings-in-2021/

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Interesting read Nigel. It is an impressive buildup, no doubt on that.

As Russia would say, just more targets for US, RN, and soon Aus SSN!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago

Let’s hope so! The outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group roundtable that “the pace they’re moving and the trajectory they’re on will surpass Russia and the United States if we don’t do something to change it. It will happen. So I think we have to do something.” https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/03/politics/pentagon-china-report/index.html “It’s not just the United States but the United States and our allies because that’s the thing that really changes the game,” Hyten added. “If it’s the United States only, it’s going to be problematic in five years. But… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

At the same time, the MIC, Military Industrial Complex, will always up play any threat. They want funding! In the Cold War, the Pentagon produced the “Soviet Military Power” guide, that maximized every threat, increased every number, to ensure enough “pork” went to defence companies and the DoD budget. I used to buy the annotated and corrected version, which would correct numerous exaggerations. The Soviet Bear was not as powerful as we thought. I would imagine there is similar here. Russian and Chinese assets are expanding, yes. We must up our game, yes. We must never underestimate a possible adversary,… Read more »

Paul Bestwick
Paul Bestwick
2 months ago

I also would like to see the second LPD reactivated. Longer term I think that LPH’s are a better fit for the RN. I like the Italian Trieste design above all those I have seen including the US ones. I fear that would require an uplift in RN headcount. And at present adding more folks to the payroll seems to be the last thing the MOD wants.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

I don’t want to see the second LPD made fully active right now, and for exactly the reason you mention. Given the constraints, double crewing forward-based frigates is a better use of manpower.

DFJ123
DFJ123
2 months ago

Can someone give some example combat scenarios where LRG North could possibly be used? It’s literally only Russia as a threat in the North right?

ATH
ATH
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

Yes Russia in the far North. But just because Norway is the primary area supported doesn’t mean the group can’t be redeployed to other areas as needed.

Joe16
Joe16
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

Yes, only Russia to the North, but by all accounts they’re fairly active. I seem to recall a Navy Lookout piece on potential scenarios, but my memory is foggy. It comes down to protecting assets and allies in the Baltic Sea (landing forces on the vraious islands surrounding Sweden and suchlike to create area denial bubbles and forward defence points), and also in the far north around the top of Norway and Iceland- to essentially control the flow of Russian combat power from their naval bases. But that does pre-suppose that those LRG North assets will be packing a lot… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

If the Russians started by scuttling ships at port access points the LPD can also still deliver if needed using the LCVP/LCU at points along the coast.

The whole FCF concept remains full of holes at this time. Lack of forces. Lack of firepower. Lack of aviation. Lack of enablers.
Is 45 Commando group sufficient reinforcement of Norway? And where is the arctic report the MoD was going to release?

Joe16
Joe16
2 months ago

Hi mate, Happy New Year! Good point, I hadn’t really considered the Russians going in for a bit of port denial but it’s certainly a solid way of reducing our ability to rapidly reinforce our northern allies if it came down to it. I’d imagine the report is either unrealistic or too critical. 45 Commando are good, I’m sure, but it’s hard to know whether they’re sufficient whithout knowing what we’re expecting them to face threatwise. If it’s coutneracting Russian SF who’re trying to screw around with our sensor stations and stuff in the north, then maybe. But if we’re… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Hi Joe. And a Happy New Year to you. Stormers?! The RM have but a single AD battery of LMM Starstreak, part of 30 Cdo. No Stormers anywhere near the RM. All we have are with 12 RA for the Armoured brigades. Precision Guided long range weapons? Nope. HIMARS? Nope. Anything beyond 70s Light Guns and Javelin? Nope. Did you see on SM how the Russians were showcasing the ability to airlift the best part of an Airborne Division, with armoured vehicles too? Granted, there are difficulties with weather conditions and terrain in the far north. Like you say, 45… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

Mate talking of the Russkies, I’ve been perusing youtube a lot recently, bit of time off, and I am watching “combat approved”. Its a reporter that does decent pieces on various Russkie units and assets. Its all a bit propaganda “ish” and only ever shows the modern bits, but I have to say its quite an interesting watch, even as you have to ignore the style and methods of the reporter. Cheers.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Will have a look mate. Cheers.

Joe16
Joe16
2 months ago

“What ever changes?!” Every time, mate, every time… It’s a real shame, this concept works for the gulf, where there are any number of lower-intensity situations where Commandos would excel, particularly as the Commando force supporting the heavier units that are being moved from Canada. It makes for a balanced force that works at all levels of conflict (at least as far as any other British formation, at any rate). But in the north? We know what would, in theory, be coming and not much of it is going to be stopped by 45 Cmdo as you describe it currently… Read more »

DFJ123
DFJ123
2 months ago

Isn’t it conceptually problematic before you even get to the resources? Is raiding from large surface vessels even possible considering the anti-air and anti-shipping weapons available these days?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

I guess it depends how you define “raiding” It is also giving more options to planners. You could say why use shipping when Akrotiri and other airfields could be used to stage you through and on to a target via remote strip using helicopters or Hercules. ( Atlas!! ) With that might come access, overflight rights? In a peer or non peer environment? Yes, with AA and AS it negates a lot without air support. What is available to assist. Apache? Cyber? Intel? SF. Friendly forces support ( US ) Raiding as in a commando “raid” on a target or… Read more »

DFJ123
DFJ123
2 months ago

I can totally see the utility of all that in the South group. I can’t see it in the North group where by far and away the biggest threat is Russia. While I don’t see Russia launching a full scale invasion of Norway, it’s very possible they could play for a snatch and grab of key strategic regions, islands or locations, especially if America is distracted by a Chinese escalation at the time. If that’s the case then I’d have thought the key capability would be to get to these locations and set up our own area denial capabilities before… Read more »

DFJ123
DFJ123
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

How are they good for raiding though? That’s the thing I can’t get my head around, raiding requires the element of surprise. The Albion class are giant radar reflectors. They’re not going to be sneaking up on anyone.

Joe16
Joe16
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

Well, a mothership launching smaller raiding boats and helos works in the Gulf, where there’s a lot of shipping of all sizesand overlapping territories- it can be hard to work out who is where and where they came from.
The whole idea of it in the far north, the more I think about it the less convinced I am…

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

Mainly Russia, of course, but China can enter Atlantic via the north if it could successfully negotiate the Aleutian-Bering choke point; essentially by subs.

Norway is Nato’s main concern as they are pre-eminent in detecting Russian transits, including subs, from the Barents (that naval intel on Warship: Life at Sea, likely a case in point). Russia is already targeting undersea cables and the enhanced Sosus network as a trawl of the internet will highlight.

Came across another example just this morning:
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/43828/undersea-cable-connecting-norway-with-arctic-satellite-station-has-been-mysteriously-severed

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

If you look at a map of Norway you will see there is just one main road that runs down the spine of Norway from Kirkenes on the Russian/Norwegian border to Narvik then down to Trondheim. If the Russians want to base their subs or elements of their surface fleet in the countles fjords on the north cape of Norway so as to remain undetected and able to intercept shipping in the Norwegian sea/North Atlantic/Artic ocean then their heavy equipment will have to travel along this route. It has been for some time the role of the RM’s along with… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago

Tuesday
11th Jan 2022

China and Russia are already focusing on the North Atlantic with more war games planned.

“To respond to the challenges we see that China poses to our security, is not about moving Nato to Asia … because we see that China is coming closer to us,” he said.

“We see China coming closer to us in cyber, controlling infrastructure in Africa and the Arctic, training together with Russia in North Atlantic waters,” he added.

https://euobserver.com/world/152142

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

China and Russia make good bed fellows at the moment because they have a common goal that is to off-balance the West but there can only be one “King of the North” as it goes, so it will not be too long before we see Mr Putin and Mr Xi start eyeing each others empire but not before we see Taiwan and Ukraine pass from the geography books to the history books. There may well be other collateral damage done in the high north as the Russians and Chinese look to the Artic for fossil fuels, minerals, precious and semi… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

Agreed. Seriously doubt Putin wants to play Mussolini to Xi’s Hitler. Marriage of convenience only.

Klonkie
Klonkie
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Gawd! that’s an ugly image in my brain!

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Your welcome !

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago

2030’s too little & too late by far. Pressure is growing in both houses of our parliament to beef up our forces & resolve the road blocks to getting the kit we neeed. We need to lose all the ridiculous spin & actually achieve military operational strength. Anything less is a gift to Putin, Xi et al.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

I agree 100% but after years of crippling cuts to our armed forces even if we doubled our defence expenditure it would take about 10 years to put back in the capacity we once had and by that time it will be too late. The only option I can see is if we buy off the shelf equipment for the army instead of looking at these super expensive bespoke bits of kit that end up whittling away most of the army’s capital. The Navy needs ships with offensive capacity and 5 year build cycle and the RAF just need more… Read more »

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

Possible Caribbean coup, I suppose.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Talking of the Caribbean China put alot of money into Jamaica, and now that Barbados has declared its independence from Great Britain how long before the Chinese, start putting in monies and then asking for access?

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Ditching Her Majesty isn’t the same as independence. Barbados has been independent for fifty years. It effectively renamed the post of Governor General to President and shuffled a bit to create a republic. You only have to worry when a president gets real power (or thinks they do) and starts running the country.

Bill
Bill
2 months ago

Albion and Bulwark. Indispensable. Must be replaced with no gap in op capabalility. Big enough to embarl a whole Commando and supporting arms. 35k tons should do it.

Steve M
Steve M
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill

2 Canberra size LHD’s for preference (plus 4-6 MRSS), if built with same advance that QE’s have crewing should be about same with better automation. would have more everything troops/vehicles/Helo’s and with bit of for thought 1 reinforce spot so in emergency F-35b could lily pad close to shore?

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve M
PRJ
PRJ
2 months ago

What capabilities do the LRGs have to deter major surface combatants? If none then they’re at serious risk

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  PRJ

It’ll probably have a destroyer or a frigate or two, and possibly a sub. Helicopters will definitely be included. Neither the Bays nor Albion have hangar facilities, so maintaining air superiority would be an issue if contested. The MRSS probably will have a single spot hangar.

Ben Coe
Ben Coe
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Not enough submarines and who reinforces Norwegians now Marines are going to be split into small pockets and spread across the globe?

The corps needs to expand to provide the raiding force return whilst keeping 3 Cdo Bgd available for Norway.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben Coe

All true.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I would think that 700 troops and 4 challenger tanks should be enough to frighten any country with a small population but not sure where these countries might be or why we might want to invade them..??

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The LRG are not for invading. Their role is outlined in the article.