Work already undertaken on the Future Littoral Strike Ship programme will help inform the upcoming defence review regarding the UK requirement for the vessels.

Gavin Robinson Shadow DUP Spokesperson asked in Parliament:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress he has made on the Future Littoral Strike Ship.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, replied:

“The Prime Minister has committed to undertake the deepest review of Britain’s security, defence and foreign policy. This review will examine how we strengthen and prioritise our alliances, diplomacy and development and will consider all aspects of our defence and security capabilities, including our approach to procurement and maintaining our technological edge. The work already undertaken on the future Littoral Strike Ship will feed into this review.”

Vessels like this are often called Expeditionary Transfer Dock’s (at least, by the US) and are typically a large auxiliary support ship to facilitate the ‘seabasing’ of an amphibious landing force by acting as a floating base or transfer station that can be prepositioned off the target area.

Troops, equipment, and cargo would be transferred to the vessel by large-draft ships, from where it can be moved ashore by shallower-draft vessels, landing craft like the landing craft or even helicopters.

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Can’t help the feeling that these will end up replacing the Albions. I know they are meant for different purposes but all the talk about this review is to modernise. The temptation could be to say that large scale amphib operations are a thing of the past.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Doubt it, they don’t have very similar mission types, utility for our allies or flexibility. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Albion’s replacements will be built out of the same hull design as the FSS


All true, but with the RMs changing their focus to raiding, these ships make far more sense than the Albions.


Wouldn’t this require a smaller vessel than this?


I’m OK with the RM going raiding, but I think our regular army formations therefore need to practice the “heavy” end of amphibious ops- a la the USMC Abrams and LAV formations. If we could do the same with Strike brigades and our CR2 units, then I think we’d actually be gaining something, rather than losing an RM capability.


Surely these are to replace the Bays? As for replacing Albion & Ocean 2 Mistral or Canberra type amphibious assault ships would maintain the LSD capability AND reintroduce the helicopter assault capability.


They would yes, but what is the likelihood? The RMs no longer have brigade strength and are pivoting towards a raid mentality once again. I can see the Albions going, replaced by these and it all dressed up as a one for one replacement, not the cut we know it to be.

Remember Boris and Cummings are looking to shift our armed forces to a modern footing, which may not mean having a true amphibious capability. After all, when are we likely to use it? But I can think of many scenarios where litterol strike is needed.


I think they are shifting to a point where they can announce things that sound impressive in carefully choreographed press briefings but actually mean cuts…

Daniele Mandelli

Another nothing answer by HMG. I believe myself they will happen.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Agreed. HMG getting a lot of mileage out of SpecOps over the last decade or so, these compliment their mission perfectly in line with our (now) most common form of direct military involvement

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly. SF and Intel boots on the ground over all others. If they are conversions like the US example cheaper too.


The US ships are protected by other assets. These are not fighting ships they could be taken down by pretty basic means. They would be sitting ducks unless they are accompanied by real warships. They are meant to supplement missions rather than be standalone warships. As an additional resource they could be very useful however.

Daniele Mandelli


So could any of our RFA, River B2’s or MCMV really.

And if they are attacked out of the blue by another nation then that means war.

Luckily when does that ever happen?

It is a balance. Not every vessel can be armed to the teeth, but I’m very hopeful for these regardless.

I recall the first reports of these talked of them acting in concert with other assets, so maybe T31’s and River B2s.


It is not about being armed to the teeth. Military vessels are designed to take missile impacts etc. They have very specific elements to protect against these things sinking them. These new littoral vessels are just commercial ships with helipads… They could be sunk by an inflatable with a bomb… Now the reports may be that they were to be escorted. That is fine, however those escorts are needed for the carriers and other fleet ships. We need more escort ships and then these cheap landing ships will be useful. I am all for cheap additional equipment, however I fear… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Understood. And I agree.


HMG’s reply is akin to a weather forecast saying 50% chance of rain.

I hope this gets the go ahead, I find myself quite enthused by the idea, but how many ships would there have to be for the rapid reaction part to be realistic?

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Nicholas. The plan mooted by Gavin Williamson was 2 vessels forward deployed. One Med, Atlantic, one Gulf, Indian Ocean, as an example. They could be reinforced as necessary. For example I could not see permanent detachments of 7 Sqn Chinooks or CHF Merlins as we have too few. But small boats, SF dets, and UAV? Yes. I too am very keen on this idea. It is important to understand the concept of these is small, persistent SF, Intelligence or RM presence vessles, not as replacements for HMS Ocean, Albion, or Bulwark. They may well end up being just that.… Read more »


Looks suspiciously like a conversion of the Point class Ro-Ros to me….. Substitution of conversions of cheap second hand commercial ships for expensive purpose built naval vessels?

Daniele Mandelli

The USSOC example is also a conversion I believe.

Daniele Mandelli

This. This is what I suggest our LSS will be for.
We have the ORC, we have the RIBS and RRC. We have the SF FIC, we have the SF SDVs. We have the RM reverting to a more raiding posture in smaller groups.

The aviation support exists. With some UAV platforms these will be useful floating SF bases.

Lee H

Hi Daniele
Great posts as always, concur with the sentiment – think bigger though, take the concept you mentioned above and expand it.
Look at what the RN and RM have been doing over the last couple of days, look at the announcement today in Plymouth – Autonomous long range submarines for example, if only ships were being designed that could launch them……

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Lee. And good to see you posting again. By the sound of your post further below more than 2 of this multi role type of vessel will be required. If the RM are operating over a wider area they need more vessels of their own as mother ships, either multi role RFA or these. I doubt a T26 will be available if it is tied to the QEC group, so T31 possibly. Could a River B2 contribute? I also wonder how the renewed emphasis on the arctic which requires a more traditional Commando Group ORBAT, with support from the… Read more »


What would be amusing Daniele is if someone in the USSOCOM hierarchy had an imagination and this vessel was merely a red herring front to divert the attention of foes while the REAL operation were run from something like this:

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Daniele Mandelli

Morning Helions.

Would not surprise me. The UK has covert places, no idea about actual assets.


As Lee said below, if we can add those big subs to it as well, that’d be awesome. But with money tight I’d rather keep the scope more limited -what you have above- and have 3 (or even 4) vessels rather than 2. That way, you’ve got 1 or 2 for the horn of Africa/gulf/Mid East area, 1 for the SCS, and maybe 1 for the north Sea/Baltics/Caribbean. I’d frankly rather not have one of these in the Caribbean; I think an IDF-bought vessel better fits the tasks required (drug interdiction and maritime policing rather than military security ops, disaster… Read more »


Yes, as soon as I saw the government’s original anouncement I thought of these- I’m a regular reader of TWZ!

Mr Bell

They look to me to be based on Tide class hull and running gear with superstructure and internal compartment changes obviously. Underlying hull though is Tide class from BMT design house, Bath.


almost certainly a point class Hull Mr Bell..

Stuart Wallace

One to replace RFA Argus?


RFA Argus is a casualty receiving ship, no strike capability. A new hospital ship will be paid for using foreign aid budget, something that’s finally useful to Britain for once.

Stuart Wallace

Is she not for helicopter training? a dedicated hospital ship as per US N could be used to assist the NHS in crisis times. For flu victims now and in port to do knee and hip operations.


The Argus has all the equipment on board, MRI scanner, 3 theatres, ICU’s, 100 bed ward, but no staff! When mobilised the medical staff are predominantly reservists. There are no full time medical units on board.

john melling

Wondering if they will decide to retire any of the bay or Albion class sooner for these Future Littoral Strike Ship?

Albion and Bulwark have only recently had refits

The bay class are all active?

So keeping the above and using future Littoral Strike Ship separate would be a better


Thinking about it they would make a good replacement for the Bay class and Argus.

Daniele Mandelli

I think the in reserve carrier will replace Argus for aviation training. For the PCRS I have no idea. The planned MARS replenishment vessels maybe?

The LSDs fulfil a different role, as do the LPDs which have C3 facilities.

These 2 LSS should be in addition to the other assets as they are a different animal.


These look to be a fantastic and welcome addition to the fleet but it makes you wonder what the RN will have to give up to get them….. as always with the Treasury it’s rob Peter to pay Paul and there never seems to much of any new money. Maybe this review will be different. I truly believe HMG needs to recognize 2% GDP simply isn’t enough to do all we want. The days of running defence on a shoe string need to end. Can the MOD be more efficient in how they use their budget? – absolutely but at… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

The 2 Wave class tankers for 2 LSS? Operated by a mix of RFA and contractors?


Err, the RFA already gave up a Bay and rumour has it Argus will not be replaced when she goes out of service. Not to mention Ocean RIP. So I’m thinking a couple of these LCS Ro-Ro / steel beach / chinook deck ships would be appropriate assets given the way future expeditionary interventions are evolving: SF missions, intel, military and / or civilian evacuation, hospital, mothership….
The Bays to be retained as LSDs , MCV motherships, hurricane relief.
LPDs retained for RM Baltic / Nato Northern flank response.


it looks like the Tories intend to use some of the Foreign aid budget for things like RFA.
A hospital ship, bay class support ships, I would even include additional purchase of helicopters in the shopping list if it could come out of that budget instead of MOD.


I think that is reasonable. Argus played a star role in the Ebola outbreak and ‘failed’ as an LHD in the Balkans: so we built Ocean, which is being replaced by POW. The Argus replacement should just be on the foreign aid budget and put under the colours in a war situation. Any new LCS ship is far more likely to be used in humanitarian aid situations and/or evacuating UK citizens in times of political trouble than it is launching SF raids. And a number of utility helos would also makes sense. Small Wildcat and huge Merlin unnecessarily expensive. Intelligence… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

“Intelligence gathering is an interesting area. Checkout the main mast on newly refitted RFA Victoria.”

This area is of great interest to me. But apart from the SCOT terminals I would not recognise one aerial from another!

I know its all opsec so won’t be mentioned here but I’d guess plenty of our vessels have this capability beyond Shaman on the T45’s and whatever is on the Astutes.

I think the River B2’s and Echo and Enterprise would also make fine hosts for such additions.


Hi Danielle,
Can’t say I understand it either. Just noting that if we are adding that capability to Victoria is that an additional capability to the fleet as a whole or does it imply we are going to lose a ship currently equipped for that role. Me just being cynical and suspicious again. Where did I put my tablets……?

Meirion X

Why not separate the capital Budget from the operational Budget, and keep the operational Budget at 2%? So new procurements would be in the capital Budget.


I think it’s clear that these will replace rather than supplement. The RoRo are the obvious target for replacement but I suspect it will be the Albion’s and align with all the rumours the last few years. Not necessarily a negative if they are equipped right. My main concern is the gap, we don’t have enough helicopters to get a reasonable sizes force deployed fast, and landing crafts would be a disaster in the era of guided missiles etc. A ship with no defensive or offensive capability will be a sitting duck if it doesn’t land it’s force fast and… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

At a time when the MOD is struggling to fund new Army, RAF & other RN kit I find it hard to believe such vessels are a priority. The littoral fleet already consists of LPDs, LSD(A)s, the Point Class &, additionally, a significant contribution from the POW. At best, something we’ve already got would have to go aside from Argus, surely?

Simon m

We don’t have a littoral fleet we have amphibious shipping for amphibious assault which needs loading up with necessary men and equipment before setting off to land a significant force it can do some littoral tasks. The problem is although a useful almost essential tool for any ambitious/significant nation it makes them difficult to rapidly deploy at a drop of a hat. This means for any reasonable size anti-terror, ground based anti piracy, no combatant evacuation or HADR the RN cannot be utilised leaving the paras with little logistic backup.the navy needs to increase its profile and utility to the… Read more »

Lee H

Evening all So the LCS never went away after all, just out of the consciousness during the election period. LCS, the Prevail Partner concept, has been designed by Royal Marines to satisfy a Royal Marine requirement. You only have to look at what the Corps is doing see the they have recognised, you change or you die. Starting with the reconfiguration of 42 Cdo RM through to the reforming of 47 Cdo RM they are reshaping themselves to meet the needs of today and the future. Former VCDS Gen Messenger RM gave a speech last year in the USA hinting… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Excellent points. LCS is clearly not a replacement of Albion and Bay-class transport capabilities though, nor should they be. However, that doesn’t justify keeping, or replacing with like, those legacy platforms. Fans of Albion and Bay-class vessels, or similar replacement solutions, are either overlooking, or ignoring, the increasing vulnerability of these platforms when disembarking off a coast during a conflict. Vehicles including armour are the main challenge to offload rapidly, rapidity being the requirement to minimise risk. Troops we can move rapidly with air assets, either rotary today, or possibly tilt rotor or alternative from the US FVL program a… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Whoops, you got me using LCS instead of LSS. If acronyms were weapons we’d be armed to the teeth!


Really good points Lee, I’m a big fan of these types of vessels! Personally, I think an ability to bring the heavy end of amphibious warfare to the conflict is important, but I don’t see that as a task for the RM anymore- I think they should concentrate on the raiding model. Instead, I think that our Strike brigades (whatever they end up looking like) and some of our armoured formations should take up some kind of expeditionary role. In the same way that the USMC still maintains the ability to land Abrams and LAV formations, I think it isn’t… Read more »

Simon m

These will not & cannot replace the Albion class. They do not possess the well deck, survivability, damage control or vast command and control facilities as long as this is understood by the government & treasury it’s a non starter. The 2nd carrier effectively replaces ocean. I would expect an Argus replacement or another RFA vessel to provide aviation training dedicating a 65000 ton carrier as aviation training ship is not a good use of resources. We don’t have masses of equipment to forward deploy & therefore any sizable task group needs to go directly from UK so the LSS… Read more »


The design and building of new LHDs to replace Albion and Bulwark should be the priority here. Part of the problem with the MOD is a failure to prioritise, cummings is right when he says the procurement processes are a mess! POW will never be able to take on a littoral LPH role, and the sale of our one and only LPH means RFA Argus is now filling in as a makeshift replacement. Ocean, Bulwark, Albion and the 3 Bays formed a pretty formidable Amphibious Assault group, but with Ocean gone and Bulwark laid up, we really need to address… Read more »

James Fennell

Sounds like they are not confirmed. Defence review is going too look at all capabilities.


The minister also confirmed that the LCS “may or may not” be fitted “for but not with” propellers, radar, fuel tanks….and then reminded everyone that “this government remains committed to the UK’s defence interests”…..


Seeing as these would also make excellent disaster relief platforms and would inevitably get used for the purpose at some point perhaps the DiFD should contribute. Oh wait that’s just one completely logical step to far for HMG.


I think these vessels with a load of CB90’s and marines would be very capable.


They would be but let’s not be fooled by the false premise that the choice of these vessels and the Albion/Bay combo is anything more than cutting back a capability and has already happened justifying a reduction in the number of our elite RMs. Given the need for them to be deployed in all recent conflicts at a regularity out of all proportion to their number compared to the number of British Army infantry battalions then reducing them and the resources available to them is militarily illiterate. It should called out as such by anyone who can think beyond their… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

“out of all proportion to their number compared to the number of British Army infantry battalions then reducing them and the resources available to them is militarily illiterate.”

So, someone else sees the fallacy of keeping so many infantry battalions that cannot be supported while cutting key enabling assets such as Bays, LPD, and our elite light infantry like the Paras and RM.

Bravo Sjb. Hopefully the Cap Badge Mafia lose out this time.


couldn’t agree more, personally I would increase the RM, and also reduce the number of battalions in the Army to 20 large ones of 900 personnel per unit.

Lastly, I would kit them all out with Boxer and forget about light infantry. A smaller more lethal force is better than a larger (on paper) mixed up force.

The 900 would have everything in them REME etc. and a load of suppressing fires.

As for the RM – double its size in my view.


Why not replace Albion and Bulwark and fulfil the objectives of the Littoral Strike Ship concept with 6 Endurance class LPDs from Singapore? Use the Endurance ships individually for the Littoral Strike Ship role when needed, i.e. for special forces support, humanitarian aid in disaster relief operations, or indeed, for commando raiding when the circumstances call for this. Then, in the event we did need to launch an amphibious battlegroup in a high intensity environment, you bring together 3-4 of the class to form an amphibious task force for that operation. Potentially they could even be used as force multipliers… Read more »

r cummings

These littoral ships seem to me of limited value, dubious strategic purpose and tactical confusion. The reason we have long had an amphibious assault capability is that, being an island, we nèed to transport troops, equipment and supplies to either reinforce allies, such as Norway, Denmark or out-of-area partners, or to mount offensive action against an enemy, as in the Falklands and Gulf wars. That strategic requirement has not gone away. It has not been superceded by aiirift, with just 4 front-line C-17s and 12 A400s, it would take a month or more just to ferry in the Brigade vehicles… Read more »

r cummings

Apologies for spelling mistakes, I do so hate auto correct…