Bay class auxiliary RFA Lyme Bay is completing the final stages of her Extended Annual Certification Period in A&P’s Falmouth Dockyard ahead of her deployment to the Middle East later this year where she is expected to relieve sister ship RFA Cardigan Bay and participate in the major Safe Sword exercise off Oman.

Part of the process will also see the vessel be reequipped with two Phalanx close-in weapon systems and other weaponry to ensure she is well prepared for a potentially hostile environment. Like her sister ships. RFA Lyme Bay is fitted to take a number of weapons systems with the actual loadout dependent on the mission undertaken. This system allows vessels on constabulary and humanitarian duties to be freed from the maintenance and manpower burdens of complex weapons systems.

The work is being undertaken by A&P as part of a cluster contract covering many of the navy’s auxiliary vessels. As well as RFA Lyme Bay the team are currently mid-way through a major refit on aviation training vessel RFA Argus and have supported the maintenance work undertaken on RFA Mounts Bay in South Carolina and RFA Cardigan Bay in Bahrain.

Speaking to the Falmouth Packet, Managing Director David McGinley said that “A&P Defence continues to perform well, supporting the RFA and the MoD to achieve efficiencies in through life support”.

Since entering service just over a decade ago the Bay class vessels have proven themselves some of the most versatile vessels in the fleet, conducting a range of duties above and beyond amphibious assault. RFA Cardigan Bay arrived in the Middle East in mid-2017 and is currently serving as the mothership to the Royal Navy’s permanently deployed mine countermeasures force. A role the Bay class vessels have inherited following the decommissioning of the dedicated forward repair ship RFA Diligence.

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The Bays seem to be able to become very different ships depending on whether they are “bare” or fully kitted out with prefab hangar, embarked helicopter and full onboard weapons fit of twin Phalanx, twin 30mm plus miniguns & GPMGs (4 MGs + 6 GPMGs according to Wikipedia). Unless I was part of quite a big swarm I’m not sure I would fancy getting too close to a fully armed Bay with hostile intent. Do the quite high firing positions for most/all of the weapons works strongly in the Bay’s favour as well? Of the bigger weapons systems is it… Read more »

Chris T

They are starting to remind me of an AC130 gunship, slow and somewhat oversized for the task but kitted out to give a low end adversary a really shabby day at the office


What brilliant ships these are in proving UK commitments both militarily and for peaceful support duties. In many ways, such ships are what many people around the World see as the British navy, especially when acting in relief roles. I do hope that the remaining fleet is not only retained in the MOD budget, but also replaced when such a decision is made. I know one went to Australia, but that should the end of any further debasement of this fleet. I’m not sure if the Bay Class are totally funded by the MOD, or some financial support from the… Read more »


Could not Ocean have been relabeled an RFA and been assigned as permanent M.E. aviation support vessel? I understand the Bays are being used to tend the MCM force, but the size of Ocean’s hanger space, flight deck, and accommodations would have been a huge asset – especially during a surge. I know she was getting worn out but the role would have been perfect with limited steaming just in the region…



Pure politics. The Treasury must have instructed the MOD to either ditch one carrier and retain Ocean; or go with two QE class? The Navy had only one choice and I can understand and agree with that decision. Obviously, manning the three ships may have been problematical as recent cuts in personnel have rendered such options as a nonstarter. I made the same suggestion as you at the time the whispers started about Ocean’s future, and that was to man most of the ship with RFA personnel? Sadly, that would have addressed the RN manning issue but not the budget.

John Clark

One thing that does concern me is aren’t the the two active Bays and the active Albion class, supposed to be part of the amphibious ready group?

How does this work when ones in the Caribbean and the others way out east!?

Daniele Mandelli

Sums it up. We don’t have one.

I guess in emergency they would be redeployed.

john martin

Well it does not work out as you put it, but why let that matter to our lot in Westminster.


A fantastic asset to both the country and armed forces. The Bay class have proven themselves time and again with their versatility.

If only we had say, or I don’t know… a fourth ship?

Oh, wait.


I do wonder whether it would be worth trying to see if the RAN would sell the 4th one back to us. When they bought it they didn’t have the Canberras, now that they do they have some big well decks elsewhere in the fleet plus their Bay is a fleet of one vs slotting in to an existing logistics/training infrastructure as it would for us. Surely worth at least some exploratory conversations?


One would hope so, it would be fantastic to see it back in the fleet. It’s still a young ship afterall. It wouldn’t be unheard of to see a ship return to RN service after being sold.

But yes, they now have the Canberras. And they’re committing to the T26, so one would hope that those factors would count towards its return.


That was my thinking too – the RAN getting all this new modern high-end equipment, and the RAAF too with P-8A and I’m sure lots of other stuff I don’t keep up with, might make them start thinking that a single Bay is a bit of a loose end from the old days and it would be better to put money raised from selling it off towards all these new assets (new subs too of course – Australia really is full steam ahead at the moment). Now might be the perfect time for the UK to look at striking a… Read more »


Does the RAN and the RAAF have the same appalling recruiting problems that we have? Lots of shiny new stuff but csn they be manned/womaned accordingly?
We cannot crew 3 of our subs at present. The year of engineering dovetails with year of the submariner..


Sub and warship manning was/ is an issue. The Mining company recruiters used to sit outside the bases making worldie offers to the engineers as they walked out the gate .
Its a little better now following the global downturn but as things are improving it will get worse again.
Plenty of Brits in the RAN…when I work with them for around 1 month a year its not unusual to find 4-5 Brits who left the RN for the RAN on a ship. It does get messy though if I know any of them…it really is a small world nowadays…