The Government have confirmed that HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will remain in service, putting an end to speculation that the assault ships are to be cut.

Julian Lewis, the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the out-of-service dates for HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will remain 2033 and 2034 respectively.”

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

“On current plans, the out-of-service dates for HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK will remain 2033 and 2034 respectively.”

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’.

The LPDs can carry 256 troops, with their vehicles and combat supplies, and this can be swollen up to 405 troops.

The ships act as the afloat command platform for the Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Force and Landing Force Commanders when embarked.

A former Defence Secretary had warned that withdrawing the Albion class would ‘end British amphibious capability’. Lord Hutton was speaking during a debate on British defence forces in the House of Lords where he said:

“I am absolutely opposed to the United Kingdom acting unilaterally—for example, by announcing the end of our effective amphibious capability. I do not believe that the QE2 class carriers—they are brilliant ships and I am proud to see them serving in the Royal Navy—have the equivalent capability. Neither do the Bay class ships. They are incapable of supporting and mounting large-scale amphibious operations with the fighting vehicles that the Army now has.

Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led us, rightly, to conclude that they needed to be better protected: they needed to be stronger, heavier vehicles. We need “Bulwark” and “Albion” to retain that capability. So we must tread pretty carefully. I am all in favour of the defence industry co-operating with government in the efficiency review: I think they should. I am certainly in favour of our thinking carefully about how we use the overseas aid and defence budgets together to secure greater security results.

HMS Albion operating at night.

But it is hard to avoid the obvious conclusion that we will need to spend more now to preserve UK effective capabilities. The painful lesson from history is that spending less on defence does not make us more secure; it does not make those threats go away, it just makes us less able to deal with them.”

Lord West of Spithead, a Former First Sea Lord, has argued that Britain’s security and prosperity requires amphibious capability. Writing in Politics Home, the former naval chief argues for the retention of the vessels that rumours say may be axed.

He states:

“Under fire particularly, it seems, is our invaluable amphibious capability. So what exactly is this amphibious capability? Britain’s security and prosperity requires unimpeded maritime access and transit. As an island nation, the country needs a broadly maritime strategy – one that has sea control at its core, but which enables power and influence to be projected inland.

Indeed, being an island, all operations beyond our shores are expeditionary and demand theatre entry. Strike carriers and amphibious forces are the enablers for this theatre entry capability. The true fighting power of a navy is its ability to ensure entry around the world using carrier air and amphibious forces and to cause sea denial using carrier air and SSNs.

Since 1945 this entry capability has been used over 10 times including Korea, Suez, Kuwait (1962) pre-empting Iraqi planned invasion, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Sierra Leone and the Al Faw. And the Royal Marines have been in almost continuous operations consisting of 30 different campaigns.”

American General Ben Hodges, commander of the US Army in Europe, has said that he was worried that British forces were already stretched too far. The General was quoted in the Financial Times as saying:

“British forces have global commitments right now. Any reduction in capability means you cannot sustain those commitments. That creates a gap. I don’t know what the magic number is, but I do know that we need the capability that the British army provides, and any reduction in that causes a problem for the alliance as well as for the United States.”

Hodges served as a battalion executive officer with the 101st Airborne before becoming Aide-de-camp to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in August 1995. He became a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne in 1997. He was Congressional Liaison Officer at the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison between 1999 and 2000.

After graduating from the National War College in 2001, Hodges served at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. Taking command of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne in 2002, Hodges led the brigade in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Not long ago, American Colonel Dan Sullivan said cuts to the Royal Marines and the loss of two amphibious assault ships would change the military relationship between the US and UK.

“My message is to articulate how important having that capability in our partner is. And how damaging I think it would be if our most important coalition partner potentially takes the hits that are projected right now. If you want to be decisive you have to be able to project power ashore at some point. From a military standpoint as the UK continues to diminish and as the Royal Marines in particular take a hit, I think that our view of what we will be able to do together in the future changes.”

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Andy P

Another ‘good news’ story. Being gloomy, something will have to give somewhere I guess, the country is throwing plenty cash about.

Callum

I get the impression it’s going to be borrowing and tax increases instead of cuts. The Conservatives learnt pretty recently that austerity is neither a popular or effective response to a recession.

Boris seems set on pumping up shipbuilding, and for good reason. The groups it most effects are the ones Boris needs to keep on side the most; workers in the North and Scotland.

Steve

Conservatives don’t do tax raises or at least dont do it for weathly, which would need to happen to make any difference. Additionally Boris government regularly lies and saying one thing whilst doing the other

My guess there will be stealth public sector cuts. However looks like defence might get lucky but we will have to see the SDSR if true or not

Callum

One of the big ideas being floated around right now is a massive increase in inheritance tax, which primarily affects the rich. As for the apparent lying, all governments do that; they sell people what they want to hear, try to make it work, and when it doesn’t they backtrack. I don’t think so, at least not substantial cuts. Defence has pretty much cleared the gate with a budget increase, the NHS is untouchable, increasing police numbers is an election pledge. You’ve got to remember how unpopular and in the long term ineffective austerity was. Balanced budgets are an excellent… Read more »

Steve

True on all governments being less than truthful, but this is the first in a while that out right lies on a daily basis. Boris and his buddie trump have made it into a art form and it’s going to hurt this country badly, thanks to terrible dealing with covid and Brexit deal at last minute leaving businesses no time to adjust. Don’t get me know I don’t trust the world of any policitcian. Inheritance tax isn’t going to be the answer unless it’s a huge increase. It’s currently tax neutral, meaning the cost of collecting the tax roughly matches… Read more »

RobW

Capital Gains tax will increase I’m sure, probably in line with income tax rates. They may also do away with or restrict certain reliefs on CGT and IHT. It is all playing around the edges though.

Increasing any tax, particularly higher rates, encourages those that have the money and mobility to declare / shelter it elsewhere so doesn’t actually increase the tax take by much. The best way to bolster Govt coffers is to try and grow the economy and get more people in work and off benefits.

TrevorH

Yes. Grow the econo.y. Increase trade. Entrepreneurship.

TrevorH

Stop making it up. Boris and Trump did not create this virus. And of course in reality he,Boris, is not a fan of Trump… any more than most realistic Republicans are.

Steve

No one is saying he created the virus, what is being saying his his handling it has been terrible / corrupt.

Constantly lying that his following the scientific advice and then ignoring it, resulting in more deaths. Failing to react when it was clear it was coming, resulting in lack of PPE, failing to lockdown early enough resulting in one of the worst infection rates. Failing to sort track and trace. Giving huge amounts of money to companies that have no experience in the topic who then fail to deliver.

Robert Blay

He has to balance the needs of public health, the economy, areas that have low infection rates against high infection rate areas. So i think you are confusing lying with what must be an impossible task to make it all work. He can’t please everyone.

TrevorH

Oh really… Sweden… who killed thousands in care homes, never forgetting their immigrant deaths. Spain, Belgium France … all still in lockdown. Oh, Italy! Who paid for and encouraged the Oxford vaccine, who has got 100 million doses ordered early. Have the French come up with a vaccine, Germany? But you go out of your way, gratuitously to criticise this govt, a govt having to face the fact that there are too many thick selfish people who will not do as they are told because they don’t care about the rest of us. I for one am furious at the… Read more »

Steve

Are death rate per capita is way worse than any of the countries listed. We are an island we could have stopped it like or significant slowed the rate like Japan, South Korea, etc. For sure there were a lot of hard choices but I doubt many really think we in the UK have handled it on average well. For example money gone to nightingale hospitals that had no staff and therefore were just PR stunt, or money gone to torry donners without any delivery (£200m wasted according to NAO). Or school meals or leaked lockdown news resulting in big… Read more »

TrevorH

Belgium, Peru, Spain and Italy per capita are above the UK (Belgium nearly twice), and we are very densely populated. (Statista dot com, 27 Nov.) So right off you are talking nonsense. On top of which you were claiming “way worse”…. so to compare UK with France and the deaths per million for last 7 days: UK = 41 and France = 39.7. Wow… what a big difference! (and France overall per capita is very close to us) To be polite, you are being naive. But to claim the Nightingale Hospitals are a stunt is disgusting, they were ordered as… Read more »

Airborne

Spot on well said.

Airborne

Playing headline politics when we need to be pulling together. Your posts confirm why we can’t get anything sorted, as no matter the issue, party politics and the sheep that follow the headlines will ensure we are always arguing and separate.

TrevorH

Lots of ideas being floated, probably all unsubstantiated.
We need investment and training and entrepreneurs.

Grant

Plenty of benefits they could slash – benefits excluding pensions run at over £200bn. I’m hoping that the tories have picked up on the fact peoples views are nuanced: they know where its important to spend money (Defence, NHS) and where its not (Aid).

Daniele Mandelli

No real surprise.

Like the doom mongers on QEC, just speculation that gets greater with the telling.

The Bays are no replacement for these assets.

Challenger will be next. That will likely remain too, albeit fewer.

I’m curious if the previously reported 2 forward deployed response groups are still planned. If so, could we see the reserve LPD brought back in use, in light of the better manning situation?

Sjb1968

Fantastic news! If manning allows the use of both LPDs as they were used before 2010 would help offset the inevitable reduction in escorts in the next few years. This plus using the B2 Rivers will at at least provide an RN presence during what is going to be a challenging period. If we could get Cardigan Bay back from the Gulf that would also help support a forward deployed response unit. I hope we can now retain the MCMs for a little longer and until we genuinely have a replacement capability. We then need a few more Merlin, Wildcat… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Agree, it’s good news. Agree in the short term escort numbers might drop as T23s paid off early. Can T31 be sped up? I’m not fully up to speed with all the autonomous stuff regarding MCM but believe they’re looking at larger mother ships to deploy them. I’m unsure if the existing MCMV will remain til 2028 or if we start getting rid sooner. They’re well regarded in the gulf by the US so politics plays a part. Agree on Wildcats and Merlins but less optimistic on them, sadly, as id take an uplift on them over ships. I think… Read more »

Supportive Bloke

T31 is already a challenging delivery schedule. Might be possible to accelerate the tail of the program but the first in service date is a challenge then do you want to build all the hulls before lessons learned from #1? Which is what it would mean.

Rotating Albion and Bulwark does mean that there is less wear and tear so they will last longer.

The thing would be to keep the one out of rotation at a higher state of readiness with a larger core crew.

Daniele Mandelli

Good point on 1st of class, hadn’t considered that.

4th watch

It makes no sense having gone through all the stop/ start selection of the T31 and costly new infrastructure on the Forth, to now put the T32 (whatever) out to tender and build it anywhere apart from Following on from the T31s. Since we stopped the Admiralty designing their own ships something of a jungle is building up around compatibility and maintenance. In fact we are going to be little better than the Designing and Building of Destroyers in WW1 where you had each builder bringing out their own version of the standard Admiralty design. Meaning you had Hawthorn, Thorneycroft,… Read more »

Andy

It makes sense if you to encourage companies to give their best prices.

Gavin Gordon

I’d forgo a lot of the ‘plus this, plus this, plus this whilst we’re about it’ for a shock revelation over increased submarine numbers!

Sjb1968

I appreciate due to constraints in the build cycle another Astute is not really possible but we are paying Bae to build them slower than is the optimum so an commitment to increase the build tempo would allow for this but sadly you are looking at the mid 2030s at the earliest.
A more immediate option is the large UAV, which it seems the Navy are keen to deploy probably because of the very shortfall you quite rightly highlight.

Gavin Gordon

Yes, ‘fraid that’s my sole lapse into the ”fantasy fleet’. Not holding my breath, of course, though I think the issue of real sub numbers will be forced up the agenda over time. Regards

Daniele Mandelli

You’re forgiven!

julian1

An increased order for Apache could allow the AAC to transfer wildcats to RN. I know an Apache brings different capabilities to a wildcat and that a wildcat isn’t a merlin, but it may be the best and most efficient way to increase FAA rotary wing…

Daniele Mandelli

I think that’s a great idea. Did the army even want Wildcat? I don’t believe so.

Dern

The problem is that Wildcat doesn’t really fill the same role as Apache, and without it the Army would lack a general utlitity helicopter. IIRC the Army would have been happy to soldier on with Lynx for a while longer, but now that it’s been replaced by Wildcat I doubt the AAC is eager to part with it.

Obviously not an easy choice since an increased Apache fleet would also be really usefull.

Airborne

Not realy mate but the Army still need a heli within ability to move small teams about, AD teams, JAV teams, recce teams SF if required etc and an ability to move some light general stores underslung. Did the AAC want it, especially in such low number, nope, but will they want to get rid of it, deffo no mate.

Gavin Gordon

On your last point, Sjb, what seemed to get lost in translation by the Government was that the Strike concept fully envisioned the requirement for tanks at inception.
Regards

Daniele Mandelli

Indeed. I’ve read descriptions of Strike being like a formation recc force for Armour, not instead of!

Joe16

Hi Daniele, yes I’ve read those articles too- something about them didn’t quite convince me though. Why not call them formation recce if that’s basically what they’re going to be?
Everybody is looking into getting a fully balanced, standalone(ish) medium role force and it rather feels to me like we tried to jump in on that too and got brought up short by a lack of funds and resources. So the idea of Strike as a (theoretically) more adaptable replacement for a role we already have was born.

Daniele Mandelli

Afternoon Joe. Correct. Going back further, the army had the funds up to 2015 to fund Challenger LEP, WCSP, Ajax and equip 3 strong armoured brigades as the 2010 A2020 plan. They then decided what they really wanted was wheels and Strike was born. Strike is actually a carefully crafted range of cuts, as i have outlined here many times. Whether that was theirs or forced on them by HMG I do not know. Having strike means it’s in its current form without the tools or firepower, and losing armour. So maybe they then justified it with claims like we… Read more »

Dern

The problem is if Warrior goes what replaces it? We don’t have anything with similar offroad capability and troop carrying capacity.

Daniele Mandelli

Evening Dern.

Maybe then, as the army surely knows batter than HMG and the likes of some of us here speculating, that will be its salvation?

Could Boxer do the same job?

Last I hear is they’re contemplating continuing with WCSP but half the numbers.

Dern

Allright Daniele, Sadly no, Boxer doesnt have the off road mobility to keep alongside CR2 and provide it with infantry support which is one of the main roles of Armoured (as opposed to Mechanised) Infantry. If your IFV’s can’t keep up with your MBT’s you end up with a goodwood like situation. Boxer, in UK service, also lacks the firepower that you want for the heavy hitting armoured infantry. There’s a reason why the Germans have Puma and Marder to operate alongside their Leopards, even though they operate Boxer in the APC role. I really hope the Army can corner… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

All fair points.

Boxer certainly needs more firepower, I hope an ATGW variant or direct fire variant maybe to come to the basic variants so far ordered.

So Warrior is a must then.

On the subject of wheels and mobility, I’m curious then why the French have gone all wheeled bar their Tanks.

Would not surprise me if all the updates on the army go ahead but they cut numbers same time. It has happened before.

Dern

An ATGW variant is unlikely, the British Army has never been big on under-armour ATGW, and, rightly or wrongly, believes in it’s ATGW’s being fired by dismounts. I can say almost exactly the same for a DF version.
I suspect the Army see the Boxer as a spiritual replacement/successor to the Saxon equipped Mechanised Regiment. Something that can battle taxi for long road marches, and protected enough that it can drop infantry off close to the enemy positions, but not really designed to support the infantry in the final assault.

Daniele Mandelli

Morning Dern.

Not questioning that as you have the experience. My line of thought, and I expect most others, was in having those Boxer versions to allow Ajax to return to armour bdes to increase the mobility of the force, as at the moment the firepower, what little there is, lies with Ajax.

Interesting that the army has that philosophy. I know in BAOR they had the Milan teams carried by Spartan.
They did have Striker to be fair in the recc regiments. I recall further back Striker was with the RA!

Dern

That’s kind of what I mean when comparing it to the old Saxon Regiments, the Boxer isn’t conceptualised by senior army officials as being a fighting platform. Like Saxon before it, it’s a long road march platform that protects it’s troops while doing the road march, then unloads them near the enemy and moves back while the Infantry deals with the enemy, possibly with Ajax supporting. The only real differencerences in the army’s view is that: a) Saxon was meant to do the long road march from the UK to the frontline against the USSR in Germany, while Boxer is… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dern
Airborne

Mate think defence has a good post on boxer and it’s variants. So many variants, so much possibility with commonality of equipment. There is your strike Brigade in one fell, though quite expensive, swoop. Alas methinks it won’t happen soon, if at all.

Daniele Mandelli

Yep, long since read it mate.

TrevorH

Does anybody know what Strike is about? Not least the army?

Airborne

The Army least of all mate….

Sjb1968

I suspect it got conveniently lost probably in HM Treasury.

Paul.P

Agree your observations on Argus and MCMs. I would like to know more detail on the plans for replacing these capabilities. Things would have been easier if we had not sold Largs Bay. Is it an option as Argus goes out of service to put the other LPD into service as Gulf mother ship and convert Cardigan Bay as a casualty evacuation ship? Or maybe you will get your ‘through deck ATS and PCR’ ship plus 2 LSS instead of 3 LSS.
Agree the R2s will be doing global patrol ship duties until the T31s enter service.

Basra

If the out of service date is 2034 then planning should begin soon for replacement given how long these things take. My own preference would be for a small LHD such as Mistral that can take helicopters but is too small for F35B. If we opt for something larger like Canberra class it would be the death nail for QE on the next round of cuts.

Sean

And the doomsayers begin again talking about cuts immediately after getting the best news about RN funding in years… 🤷‍♂️

John Clark

This is excellent news on a gloomy winter’s day chaps!

Certainly the mid 2030’s out of service dates for both vessels means a program of replacement needs to start soon.

You can’t deny the flexibility of a flat top for amphibious operations…..

I’m not as optimistic re Challenger 2 though, I can see a properly funded serious commitment to light strike brigades though, with an emphasis on light..

That certainly means new equipment and perhaps an increase in strategic airlift, Helos and perhaps an uplift in AH64E numbers too ….We will see….

Basra

Just realistic unfortunately, F35B CVF is an awesome combination but expensive. As soon as the treasury thinks you can fly it off an LHD you can kiss carriers goodbye. Same reason our LPD’s and LSD’s don’t have hangers like everyone else.

Sean

Oh brilliant idea, scrap the already functioning carriers and spend more money to build some new LHDs for the F35s instead 🤦‍♂️
I don’t even the Treasury is that penny-wise, pound-foolish…

Daveyb

I honestly believe that there is a case to replace the Albions, Bays and possibly Argus with a number of LHD style ships, but also introduce a large number of modern Round Table class style LSLs. There is definitely a need for them and a very strong case that they work in concert with the Strike carriers. A Canberra sized ship is about the same as an Invincible class light carrier. The Falklands War proved that the ship was too small to be a strike carrier, as its complement of Sea Harriers couldn’t sustain both combat air patrols and strike… Read more »

John Clark

I think the Canberra class are about a third bigger displacement wise Davey.

I would love the RN to replace Bulwark and Albion with two Canberra class ships.

I would go the redesign route and loose the ski ramp though, we simply don’t need it and it reduces Helicopter capability….

JohnN

The reason given here in Oz regarding retaining the ski ramp on the Canberra class was because it is a structural part of the bow and would have been expensive to redesign and remove.

Even with the ski ramp there are six spots for simultaneous operation of MRH90s or four spots for CH-47.

If the UK Government did eventually replace Albion and Bulwark in the 2030s with the Canberra class, I think the ski ramp would be a bonus.

They could potentially be used for F-35B training and a back up to the QE class too.

Cheers,

JohnN

Actually the hanger capacity of the Canberra class is much larger than you have suggested, see the cutaway in the link:

https://www.navy.gov.au/fleet/ships-boats-craft/lhd

The vehicle ramp that runs between the heavy and light vehicle decks doesn’t take up much floor space.

The hanger shares the same deck as the light vehicle deck, when it’s not in use for light vehicles 18 helicopters can be housed, helicopters can also be transported/stored on the flight deck if necessary too.

Cheers,

Paul.P

Agree on the new Round Table class thought. I think they and Mexefloat landed most of the stores and vehicles at San Carlos. Albion and Bulwark are very capable and have a lot of life left in them. Agree LHDs are more flexible but realistically not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Helicopter assault will use POW.

The Big Man

Maybe a small issue, but I think you will find the Canberra Class cannot fit the LCU mk10 in the dock, that is it can only fit one versus four in the Albions.
Also, are they not a bit slow by modern standards, albeit faster than the Albions. Possibly the Azimuth drive hindering, but then is there room to fit conventional propulsion? Adaptations push the price up.

ChariotRider

To be fair HMS Ocean was built to commercial standards and as such had a “given” top speed of 18knots.

https://www.forces.net/news/hms-ocean-your-life

Wikipedia give her cruising speed as 18knots, but list no top speed.

Given the RN’s penchant for understating top speeds I would guess she could push on bit more than this, but she was no way as fast as an Invincible class. So I would say the RN would probably accept a lower speed for an amphibious warfare vessel. After all speed is noisy and it costs.

Cheers CR

Supportive Bloke

None of the Bays, Albions or Ocean were fast.

Ocean’s diesels were not exactly high revving or high tech wonders: they were cheap workhorses.

Compare are that to 4 x Olympus GT’s in Invincibles….

I think the most likely outcome is 4x Juan Carlos(esqe) flattish tops. They might be F35 compatible as Lilly pads for land R&R fuel and go but I doubt it is worth giving them the deep maintenance facilities.

ChariotRider

Yeh, I agree, although I think 2x is more likely with the possibility of a third dangled to drive a good deal… Whatever the choices I would hope that the process starts soon to ensure the timely arrival into service. I would also hope that the RN would chose another established design with only limited modifications to limit delays and costs, thus allowing the early development of a T45 replacement. With HMS Daring already 11 years old (all be it having spend less time at the sea than perhaps was envisaged) thoughts do need to start to move to their… Read more »

JohnN

The ship to shore connector for the Canberra class is the Spanish designed LCM-1E, four are carried in the well dock:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNTmNNiTAw

Cheers,

The Big Man

You are correct, but are missing that these are much smaller than our LCU Mk10’s hence not being able to fit. In fact, with the divider in place within the dock you would not even get a single one in.

JohnN

Mate, not sure what point you’re trying to make? I simply said that the ship to shore connector for the Canberra class was the LCM-1E and not the LCU Mk10. But it appears you are trying to turn it into a pi$$ing contest between the two types? But yes, the LCU is a larger watercraft than the LCM.

Now if you want to compare aviation capabilities, well there is no comparison.

Cheers,

The Big Man

My point, without resorting to confrontational language, was that from a cost effective point of view we would have to replace our 10 LCU’s as well and perhaps for something less effective all adding to the cost.
Clearly there are no comparisons on aviation, but then that was not the point.

JohnN

Ok, so as per the article, A & B will remain in RN service until 2033 & 2034, and by that time the LCU fleet will be approx 35 years old (my understanding is they started to enter service in 1998).

One would reasonably assume that ‘if’ the UK Government does proceed with replacements for A & B (and who knows what that would be), the ship to shore connectors would probably also be replaced at the same time too.

Sceptical Richard

Can we please call them the Juan Carlos class which is what they are and not the Canberra class?

John Clark

I prefer Canberra class, it’s got a nice Commonwealth ring to it!

The ‘Juan Carlos Class’ sounds like something Jonny foreigner might use to threaten Gibraltar with…….

Sceptical Richard

I feel my urine being extracted. Juan Carlos it is then.

John Clark

Ha ha ….

john melling

Now that’s so funny…my Gibs are hurting ;P

The Big Man

I agree, was being polite and do we wish to associate with the name anymore.

Dern

It’s not Juan Carlos Class,
It’s Juan Carlos Primero Class if anything.

john melling

Why would getting, say two or three 27,500t be a death knell for the QE or PoW LHD are completely different assets… Carriers are great to strike from afar but no good in shallower water! Hence the type of Expeditionary Strike Force needed would dictate the assets and in that case separated into Littoral Strike Group Amphibious Strike Group (LHD inc) Carrier Strike Group *** ***Carriers are only need when Sh*t hits the fan… a worst case scenario! When when need to create a safe landing zone And we use LHD and/or LPD and the rest of its task group… Read more »

john melling

Oh somehow missed of this – And we use LHD and/or LPD and the rest of its task group for for other scenarios like the current relief operations in Honduras and raiding shore lines with the Royal Marines. Until tasked with a worse intervention

Nick Bowman

I’ll be the lone dissenter here. Amphibs should not be retained long-term for the following reasons: 1) The use of landing craft forces amphibs to operate in confined waters close to shore where they are vulnerable to modern defenses that previously didn’t exist, like man-portable anti-tank missiles. 2) The lack of manoeuver room clise to shore makes amphibs highly vulnerable to air attack. In decades past this threat had to be endured because helis did not exist. That is no longer the case. The object is to land a force, not to preserve legacy ships. 3) inserting even a handful… Read more »

Rfn_Weston

Arise the issue of MANPADs for the invading 20 Chinooks.

john melling

Well obviously we would first be suppressing enemy air and ground assets and then the RM head to shore. Battle planners will decide if PoW or QE needs to be sent or if in the area to enable overwatch It all depends on the Scenario, but other assets can be brought in as well… Remember we have drones now too ! Any air lifted troops in Chinooks, Merlins or what ever we have available would be a little later when we have a foothold ;P And they go to a dedicated LZ 20 Chinooks wont just fly over on a… Read more »

Nick Bowman

True, but the advantage of helos is that they can cross the coast at any point. Landing craft are funnelled towards easily-defended beaches. We should note that the Albions draft 23 feet. That limits the places you can put the ship. Your MANPADs are focused around obvious landing grounds.

John Clark

To be fair Nick, you make some very valid points, against a modern well equipped country, traditional Amphibious landings are extremely dangerous…

A simple 40 year old Milan system, or its eastern block equivalent, deployed by a couple of men hidden away could cause chaos destruction in the latter stages of a landing…

Much to said for over the horizon Help borne assault….

That’s said, I would still rather keep Albion and Bulwark!

Supportive Bloke

EW systems would know if you had Milan or anything like it running anywhere near. These are not pull out of box, aim fire devices. They need to be switched on, warm up and lock. All the time singing a loud song. All the old systems were not what you would call electronically quiet. That might not be the case with very new laser guided Systems like the ones the UK uses. You can always come up with a reason why using a Helo, LPD, fast jet is a BAD idea ‘because’ Nobody is going to recreate WWII opposed landings… Read more »

Dern

But then, it’s not 1940 and no opponent maintains a large enough Army to create an Atlantic Wall style of defense, so you just land where you know the enemy isn’t.

Sjb1968

Bringing large ships near a well defended shore was never a good idea and even in WW2 overwhelming air and sea power was required. The LCU’s are obsolete and a faster long range replacement is required but in any scenario against a well resourced adversary 20 Chinooks flying deep in land is no more survivable.
We are definitely living through a revolution in warfare and it is a fine judgement on what should go but some kind of ship to shore capability will emerge in the next decade led by the USMC.

Paul C

You make some valid points. My take on this is that the reprieve of the Albions gives us some breathing space to consider the future of the amphibious capability and assets required. It may be that LPDs/LHDs are not credible future platforms so like-for-like replacements should not be built. I am certainly dubious re. the LSS concept. At least now the RN is retaining something that works for the forseeable future rather than having the stool kicked out from under it at short notice. This has happened so many times before with next to no money saved. Whether or not… Read more »

Nick Bowman

Paul, and others, I appreciate the reasoned and constructive responses to my arguments. I was expecting a tirade of abuse. This website really has a great community. Your points are also valid. Decisions must be made with laser focus on the objective – the forced insertion of an infantry force of a few hundred, supported by all the kit they will need to hold a beachhead. I’m just not sure the long-term cost of maintaining this capability in the long-term is worth the opportunity cost of investment in other areas. The survivabilty of LPDs has decreased in a World where… Read more »

Daveyb

My reply is that there will always be a need for a LPD or LPH type of ship, regardless of the threat. If we follow the same path as the USMC and spread our forces by using a dozen or so LSLs, as the main means of getting more troops and equipment on to shore after a helicopter assault. This would mitigate some of the risk. The main method of reducing risk is to land on an unopposed beach. However, that’s not always possible. So you need combined air and surface fire support to make sure your landing is not… Read more »

Cdickinson

Carriers won’t be doing any “striking from afar” unless we can come up with some credible options for air to air refueling the f35b.

Dern

You mean the F-35B that has a greater range than the F-18?

Cdickinson

There isn’t much in it at all though right? And it has been stated in the past that the Hornet has a range issue. Fine for the US as they have deployed the MV-22 with a refueling option and they have developed the MQ-22 refueling drone. But the only option open to us is get a Voyager in the air or use buddy refueling? Given that we’re likely to purchase less than 138 airframes that will pur even more hours on them by doing that? It’s just something we, the UK need to work on as an improvement to carrier… Read more »

Dern

Well I’d tell that to the Swiss, and the Germans, and the Fins, and the Canadians, and the Spanish…. who all either do, or want to, operate the F-18. As for “it isn’t all that much” it’s significant, but Hornet, F-35 and Rafale all (realistically, despite Dassaults figure fiddiling {Rafale’s combat ranges are published for very light combat loads with lots of external fuel tanks and a ideal flight path in order to make it look better, F-35 and F/A-18’s published ranges follow more realisitic flight paths and loadouts}) have similiar combat ranges. As for refuelling: The USN doesn’t seem… Read more »

JohnG

Jolly glad they are keeping this. Though It’s always perplexed me the low number of troops they carry. Bearing in mind only half are put ashore, I struggle to see what impact 125/ 200 troops can have? The only conclusion I could come to was that they were originally intended to be used with HMS Ocean and a bay class ship, which would give a more sensible total troop number plus the helicopters from ocean to ferry them ashore. (From memory ocean could carry 600-800 troops and the bay 200-300.) With the removal of ocean this does leave a bit… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

On balance, with A & B being first at the gate assets, with Bays and Points in the offing and CSG loitering, I think RN are to be feared, though, JohnG. Up the adversarial risk and there’s still the little matter of NATO, including the US.
Of interest, UK/Europe alone can muster significant flat-top/landing platforms all backed by
competent major escorts; something in the region of twenty destroyers, fifty frigates and corvettes and fifty attack subs in total, I think.

JohnG

Not quite sure what your driving at Gavin, thanks for the reply though. I was trying to understand whether such a small deployment of marines could have any significant impact, and speculated that the original planned minimum deployment numbers were much higher due to the envisioned use of HMS Ocean (600-800 troops on shore with the same again on boat in support, Vs 200-400 now) along side a bay class ship. It raised the question in my mind, if the original minimum lethal force deployed amphibiously was determined to be 6-800 troops (which as a battallion sized unit would make… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Answered under my name not yours in error, JG.

john melling

Don’t forget it depends on the scenario because if its at the high end the if major reinforcements are needed, we have the whole of the RM that can be sent with Cruise ships

The Amphibious \ Expeditionary landings are just the tip of the spear

Gavin Gordon

Well, I suppose it initially depends on what the RN have in mind for this new Vanguard Strike Force; numbers either ideally catered for by the Albions’ capacity or perhaps tailored to fit, admittedly. Either way, I think that the other assets mentioned would allow a significant backup in numbers, transportation and protection, if called for, for the RN alone. After that, we have our allies, should the situation demand their input – which one hopes would be evident to all parties by that point. The escort figures were just added for overall context in that scenario, particularly as they’d… Read more »

john melling

We have plenty of assets, and as you rightly pointed out with A & B here until replaced with modern types, Bays and Points and at the extreme scenario a CSG
And the new Expeditionary Strike Forces being envisioned we are a lethal force to be reckoned with.
The naysayer’s can grumble all they want


The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

The Albion class can carry 710 troops if required so they are actually not bad in that respect. If you compare to Mistral class 450 std or 900 overload for short term operations it’s comparable . I think Canberra class better though with 1050 std or 1600 overload for short term. Anyhoos I’m sure the reason they are what they are is they are designed to operate in conjunction with the Bays that carry troops aswell. I think it’s much smarter to spread your forces over a number of ships than 1 or 2 large troop carrying ones cos if… Read more »

The article above mentioned 405 troops, I’m aware the figure on Wikipedia is higher, but to be fair I’d trust UK defence journal over wiki. I imagine they could hold more troops if needed, however I imagine they would sacrifice vehicles or some other force multiplying capability for this, and so would only do so as part of a large multi ship offensive. I believe that the 405 troop figure for the Albion class is the number of troops plus their supporting vehicles that can be held for a well rounded fighting force. Even with a bay class ship included,… Read more »

Meirion X

It will become difficult to access littoral waters in the future with commando type carriers, like HMS Ocean.

Bill

Good news for the RM which should end further speculation on their future. It’s just a matter now of seeing where the axe will fall….

Andrew Crisp

So I suspect someone worked out these offer the exact same or near same abilities as two new littoral strike ships snd we’ve already bought these.

Paul.P

Agree. Littoral strike ships and Canberra LHDs are fine ambitions but the barely run in LPDs plus perm any QE class, R2 and Type 31 lily pads as required, will do.

Paul.P

Not unexpected but good news nevertheless on a damp and dull November morning.

Degradable

Is this good news. These ships are not really helicopter capable. They have very limited capacity, speed and they cost a significant amount. The argument of American influence is fairly hollow. If the RN was to acquire or improve services in another area (CVF), that would offset the loss of these vessels. Currently, deploying a little bit of each component, with no mass is not convincing and not effective. Plus it is costly. We have to accept that government has stumped up extra cash, and shown a willingness to listen. The RN, to be truly effective has to consider losing… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Simple logic albeit facilitated by sudden funding. Why get rid of a vital, utilised, barely fifteen year commissioned asset whilst we ostensibly consider the validity of some nebulous new modus operandi.

Mark F

This statement has confirmed that the Littoral class ships have been shelved.

Daniele Mandelli

You might be right. I hope not, as a LSS like the US versions supporting USSOM and supporting UKSF and small RM dets are useful assets.

Think of a converted Point type undertaking the sort of thing SD Victoria does now, but operationally.

Landings in greater numbers would use the LPD, LSD ( A ) and a QEC if greater aviation lift is needed.

I remain a supporter of the LSS concept and see them as more than just a poor man’s LOD replacement, especially if they are multi role vessels like one study C2020 was looking at last year.

expat

There’s a good article that just been published on Save The Royal Navy website on Multi role vessels

Ian

DM…… what a mistake selling a Bay class to Australia ….. we cannot replace that capacity for the money we got for her..

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Ian.

One of the worst 2010 decisions for me.
Such a paltry saving, for an asset with that sort of flexibility and with HADR potential too.

Sjb1968

Awful decision along with scrapping RFA Fort George. Why not lay them up – PxO.

JohnN

Sorry, but you can’t have her back! Largs Bay, or I should say HMAS Choules, is having a good life in the sun here in Oz, she landed in our lap just at the right time and a good price too! Initially there were some suggestions she wouldn’t see a full service life with the RAN once the two LHDs commissioned, but it was confirmed a number of years ago that Choules will operate up until around 2030. It was also confirmed around mid this year that Choules would eventually be replaced with two ships, something like this design from… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Putting a positive spin on that, the Aussies are kindly ‘forward deploying’ it for us. Similar situation with Clyde in Bahrain. What sports!

john melling

Just because we are saving the above Albion and Bulwark, it does not mean we can sit back and do nothing to restructure the Expeditionary groups

My view on Littoral Strike Ships like the proposed FLSS are different assets from LHD and LPD and can be tasked separately of as a Task force combining other assets like Albion and Bulwark ad and entering worst case scenarios with the QE and PoW.

I do hope the Littoral Strike and related visionary concepts are brought to life

Joe16

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad for all the funding that the RN is getting. But I’m concerned about the other two branches; We keep talking up Tempest as another route to bringing investment and jobs into the UK, but this extra cash isn’t going to stretch to cover the RN, Cyber, Space Command and Tempest in any apprebiable way. That’s before we get to CH2 LEP, Warrior CSP, MRPV and whatever else the army could really do with to get Strike viable rather than vulnerable. The T32 frankly concerns me a little; we’ve worked hard getting decent T26… Read more »

Ian

Hi Joe16. 8 T26 5 T31 6 T 45 then 5 T32 lots of different ships…. why not try and standardise a couple of designs

Joe16

That’s what I’d rather see happen. I can live with T45, T26 and T31, with T45 to be replaced with T4(X). If T4(X) can use the same hull as T26 or T31 then so much the better, but I believe there may be a significant redesign required.
T32 just adds another hull into the mix at the low-value GP end of the spectrum, when the T31 design does the job just fine. If we want a more advanced GP, then use the T26 hull. I’m just not sure what a next generation GP hull would be…

Dern

Because to be fair, once the hull is build it’s not that big of a deal in terms of standardisation.
More important is what is in/on the hull.

Steve R

To be honest, I don’t buy into the “next generation” talk. It’s just that… talk. “Next generation” of ships are the Type 26s and Type 31s. Pointless talking about the generation after that; would be like planning for grandchildren before you even have children! Type 32 will be nothing more than a 2nd batch of Type 31s, possibly with added capability and armament. There is no role to fill that isn’t filled by either the 26s or 31s; a 3rd class of frigate will simply be a waste of money. Money that the MoD will never see again should they… Read more »

Joe16

I fully agree, just not sure why they said it! The only next generation the RN should be talking about is T4X.
I would be more than happy with B2 T31s, even if they end up replacing rather than augmenting the B1s due to them being sold off to other navies.

Daniele Mandelli

Most likely just more T31, as b2. I would be more than happy with that. Or perhaps a type which could be a light frigate come MCM carrier come UAV carrier to replace the larger fleet of MCMV.

Agree no point in a 3rd conventional frigate design.

On the army, my prediction is it will get it’s fancy toys, but at a cost in less armour and less people.

Paul C

Yes, T32 to me means a second batch of T31. Maybe some modifications, maybe not. No guarantee that they will actually be built, of course. Plans for 5 additional ships could easily become 3 or even 0 depending upon politics and finances.

Not sure re. the timescale, so the final decision could be in the hands of an incoming Labour government. They may decide to go ahead but sell off some of the earlier ships, therefore no uplift in numbers. Time will tell but none of this is a certainty.

Joe16

Likewise, T31 B2 would have been a very welcome anouncement on its own! A multirole hull is tempting, but just need to be a bit careful we don’t fall into the LCS debacle with trying to carry out specialised tasks by dropping in advanced kit onto unspecialised hulls with unspecialised crews. I’m pretty sure that’s not what you were suggesting, but it’s a trap we should avoid. Re army, I’d rather scrap warrior and go all-in on Ch2 LEP, Ajax and Boxer. Build from there, rather than try and nurse on the older and well-used warriors. Boxer apparently gives equivalent… Read more »

George

Hi folks hope are all well.

Does this good news mean that there will be replacements for these two important crafts and be ready for 2030s? What would the replacements be in caperbility? Also would UK yards be capable to build during a programme of other ships being constructed at the same time, Type 26 and Type 31 / 32.
Thanks
George

Daniele Mandelli

Hi George.

On all points, I myself do not know! Sorry. 👍

Sceptical Richard

This is great news indeed. So 2033 and 34. That means a replacement programme needs to be funded and started now so that with a bit of luck and a following wind we could have something in service in 15 years’ time

Ron5

This reply means nothing. All current plans are subject to next years review which might very well cut the ships.

Gavin Gordon

Saw the inference as well, but if the Gov & MOD are now wearing their sensible heads……

Paul C

Good point. ‘On current plans’ actually means very little. Current plans change and we will have to wait until well into 2021 for the integrated review. This article is rather ahead of itself in reading too much into a rather opaque ministerial statement. As far as I can see there is no guarantee that the LPDs will be retained in the longer term or replaced. Some cuts are inevitable for all 3 services, so if not these what?

Ron5

Exactly!

Phillip

Presumably now is the time to start thinking about what will eventually replace them, assuming that they do actually make it to 2033 and 2034. Let’s not forget, governments can change both policy and political hue.

RichardB

I’ve been a prophet of doom where the amphib force is concerned, delighted to apparently be proved wrong. From an RN perspective, the Integrated Review is shaping up to be by far the most pro-sea power since SDR in 1998. Before that – maybe Sandy’s much maligned Review of 1957 – which backed modernizing the RN and its carrier force whilst slashing the RAF. The First Sea Lord, Lord Mountbatten, playing a blinder by all accounts. The key question now is whether serious studies in to a LPD(R) will begin soon, with a view to the next defence review (2025?)… Read more »

James

Racking my brain trying to think of what ‘legacy’ capabilities might be cut, all I can think is tanks, ifv’s and amphibs. So if these are saved what else could possibly be cut? Few old frigates? the mlrs that exist in tiny numbers? AS90? Rapier? Just don’t see what they can cut now that wouldn’t further weaken the force’s, army in particular

RobW

2 remaining Wave class, Rosalie, Ft Austin, Challengers (some), minesweepers, light infantry, towed artillery perhaps, AS90, Warriors, Puma helicopters, Sentinel.

It is quite difficult to see them saving much by scrapping this list though. Also some of it will need replacement, long range artillery and minesweeping for sure.

Biggest saving on the equipment plan will be a fall in F35B numbers down from 138 to 70 ish. A cool £6.8bn saved in one go.

What else? A few more base closures most likely.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, agree. Waves: A cut as they are not replaced by Tides as HMG might spin it. Tides replaced Rover’s and other types like Leaf’s and Ol’s further back. Forts. I think they rarely sail now. Tanks. Agree, some, but the rest updated as heavy armour reduces. MCMV. Yes but not immediately. Light Infantry. Yes, but I hope some headcount goes to support units. Towed artillery. Yes, especially 29 RA, why have towed artillery if RM are now light SF? Ideally the reg would be part of a new arctic infantry bde found by the army. AS90. Maybe, if they… Read more »

Ron5

“Biggest saving on the equipment plan will be a fall in F35B numbers down from 138 to 70 ish. A cool £6.8bn saved in one go”

The only F-35s in the current equipment plan are the first 48. So no savings to be had.

RobW

Is that right? The £183bn plan includes £17.1bn for combat air. All 138 F35Bs would be around £14bn. If they aren’t all included in that budget then what is to make up the £17bn?

Ron5

@James “Racking my brain trying to think of what ‘legacy’ capabilities might be cut, all I can think is tanks, ifv’s and amphibs”

IMO still a good list.

Glass Half Full

“On current plans …” means Albion-class stay until plans change. Which really means nothing at all in terms of a commitment. That said, it seems unlikely the UK would scrap the class, or the Bays either, until we have at least an alternative strategy for amphibious ops, if not a solid equipment plan for an alternative capability, whether publicly communicated or not. Any replacement capability has to take into account what vertical lift assets look like from the 2030’s onward. It also has to take into account what the threat environment looks like from a peer engagement on down for… Read more »

Frank62

Another utbreak of sanity for defence. I’m getting light headed after so many decades of cuts & gapping. Often, just as you think a capability isn’t needed any more, reality hits you in the face with just such a demand.

Steve

Just to add a word of caution here. Read the statement again carefully. Our CURRENT plan is to retain them. This is correct, even if they are going, as the SDSR has not yet happened and therefore any thoughts on retaining or not is not official and therefore can not be in the current plan.

Daniele Mandelli

Possible.

That is not how I read it, as as far as I’m aware the RN and RAF sides of IDSR have been decided already and it is the army side which is still to be decided.

Steve

Nothing is decided until it is formally announced.

Probably these are now safe, but just highlighting that this is open to interpretation so don’t get to excited just yet.

Mark B

I think we are saying that the extra funding will at a minimum mean that nothing is for the chop and indeed we might get some extra kit?

Daniele Mandelli

No. Ben Wallace has already stated that “we must continue to make the efficiencies and savings needed” ie cuts.

Hopefully most are previously announced already like Sentinel and the future basing strategy.

I still believe we will lose some army manpower.

But yes, I think there will be some carrots! There always are.

Captain P Wash

A couple more Carriers would be nice !

Steve

I really don’t get constantly cutting the army. For token wars where you just want to show your doing something then the air force is great, but if you want to actually achieve anything you need boots on the ground and you need them in numbers.

Daniele Mandelli

I think I do. HMG see it as still big enough to cut and it alone is manpower intensive where the other 2 services are not. I don’t like cuts to the army either. But having said that I’d not save a battalion over a RN escort or RAF squadron. I do however see the other services and the intelligence and SF community ahead of it given the UKs geographical location and world wide interests. And SF and the intelligence community, allied with high tech and cyber, can give an effect out of proportion to their numbers. Especially given that… Read more »

Steve

Also the issue is the special forces pull from the army/marines/para and the more they cut the pool to pick from, something has to give. Either quantity or quality of the special forces has to go down.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, it is a well known issue.

Dern

The problem with SF and the like is that SF is all well and good, but it can’t take and hold ground, and it can’t stop an armoured column.
I think the army deploying “en masse” is also more common than we make out, the problem is you can’t just create the army to fight those “en masse” wars out of anything. The assets and training has to exist before hand, as well as the practice and doctrine…

Mark B

Sorry Danielle but we need a reality check here. Every organisation must strive to be efficient the military is no exception and indeed an efficient organisation is cheaper to run than an inefficient one thus allowing you money for additional kit. Bulwark and Albion are safe with Boris and always will be because he is not a complete nit wit.He does not wish to cripple a whole arm of the military. He is a fan of the military – a rare quality in a PM. In a post Brexit Britain what exactly is the role of the Army in Europe,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Mark

In a post Brexit Britain what exactly is the role of the Army in Europe, in Asia etc.It is easy to see the role of the RN and RAF and it makes sense to modernise them first and look at the Army when you have a better idea of your needs.”

Pretty much what I suggest above.

Captain P Wash

More great news.

Last edited 1 month ago by Captain P Wash
Ron

Good, we need these vessels. Hopefully if they could be replaced sooner rather than later they could continue to serve as tset ships for the mothership concept.