After completing a refit, RFA Lyme Bay is now back in the fleet.

Since leaving her home of Falmouth, Lyme Bay has been based in the equally familiar ports of Portland and Devonport on the South Coast, conducting safety and readiness checks for aviation, machinery breakdown drills, damage control, fire-fighting and administrative checks and the like, say the Royal Navy in a release.

“Ahead of impending Operational Sea Training (OST) – and in-order to prove aviation capability – the amphibious support ship embarked an 815 NAS Wildcat helicopter, based at RNAS Yeovilton, for the day.”

“Following our drydocking and refit in 2017, together with the hard work and preparations by the ship’s company, Lyme Bay is ready for OST,” said Commanding Officer Captain Jed MacAnley RFA.

“On successful completion, we will resume our duties delivering global maritime operational support to the Royal Navy – and our coalition partners – wherever and whenever required.”

Having completed regeneration, Lyme Bay’s enhanced capabilities will be tested for the first time during a demanding four weeks of OST, due to complete at the end of March. This will be closely followed by forthcoming Exercise Joint Warrior 18 off the west coast of Scotland in April according to the Royal Navy.

The Bay class are operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and are officially designated as ‘Landing Ship Docks’. Each Bay class vessel is capable of carrying up to 24 Challenger tanks or 150 military trucks in 1,150 linear metres of space. The UK operates three Bay class vessels after selling the fourth to Australia.

Under normal conditions, a Bay class ship can carry 350 soldiers, but this can be doubled to 700 in overload conditions. The flight deck is capable of handling helicopters up to the size of Chinooks, as well as Merlin helicopters however while the class have no hangar, a temporary shelter can be set up to house a single helicopter. The well dock can carry one LCU Mark 10 or two LCVPs, and two Mexeflotes can be suspended from the ship’s flanks.

A Mexeflote from RFA Mounts Bay in the Carribean.


        • Something needs done about the legal ones too. Britain was 20% non white back in 2011 from the census, they have been letting more in non stop since then, add illegals and our European country is already around 25% non white, and still letting more in. A few and no one would have been bothered, but it has went way beyond that by now. What are we going to do, deliberately make our own race outnumbered in our own country? We cannot go along with this any longer, start saying so openly.
          Can anyone imagine the Chinese making China 25% a foreign race then still letting more in and being too scared to say anything? Or the Pakistan? Or Japan? etc., etc., etc. Imagine how pathetic the men of those countries would have to be to allow that and be shaking in their boots to say anything about it. That is how pathetic we look to the rest of the world.
          This is not what we want, it is time to start saying so openly.

          • Does it matter? The UK has pretty close to full employment and it has been proven that immigrants on average pay more in tax than they take in benefits. Time to stop all this rubbish unfounded racism around immigration.

          • Agree with Stephen. G

            This is PC in action and failed multiculturalism with free speech about whether the nation want that becoming a crime.

            Bit like never having a say for 40 years on what the Common Market has become with the EU. Remember that? We had a vote and they are trying to sabotage it as I speak.

            Steve, with respect you may be right concerning tax vs benefit.
            What you ignore is an ageing indigenous population with net immigration adding to that 300,000 to 500,000 a year.

            X that by 10 and see what state public services are in 10 year from now.

            Housing crisis. Is anyone surprised with this influx?
            NHS. Breaking point.
            Schools. Classes huge compared to what they were.
            Infrastructure. Where? They want to add 5,000 new homes to my local town. Great. Where are the schools, roads, sewage?

            Lefties constantly bang the drum about race concerning immigration.
            It has nothing to do with colour of skin. If unlimited numbers of people from other cultures come here then do not all integrate with the indigenous population or reject their customs that will lead to trouble NO MATTER WHERE in the world you are.

            Lefties jump up and down as if it is purely an English problem.

            Anyway, lets get back to defence.

  1. As stated in article. 1 LCU or 2 LCVP does not equate to the LPD’s with 4 LCU and 4 LCVP.

    Also, what is that vessel beyond her?

  2. It’s so sad that we sold the 4th Bay to Australia. I was reading in Gabrielle’s blog a few minutes ago that apparently it was done to save £12m a year. £12m out of our supposedly over £40bn a year defence budget seems to me a disproportionate loss of capability vs the savings realised.

    • In fairness if we ever needed it again I’m sure Australia would make it available again for the same price it was sold for. If we don’t even have the crew to man it, at least the Australians are getting good use out of it.

      • That’s true. If the choice really was letting her rust because of no crew or giving her a good home where regular maintenance would be kept up then we did the right thing.

        This lack of personnel really is a very core issue that needs to be addressed and to address it HMG needs to realise that terms and conditions of employment need to improve. It’s not going to get better by itself.

    • According to Wikipedia they also have 2 x DS30 30mm cannon.

      A pair of Phalanx (I assume the Bay in that picture has a matching Phalanx on the starboard side) plus a pair of 30mm and some miniguns and GPMGs (4 MGs and 6 GPMGs for a Bay, again according to Wikipedia) seems to be a pretty standard defensive armament for our RFA vessels. From my very brief research that actually seems pretty OK compared to how other countries arm their supply vessels.

      I was having a discussion with someone in the comments section of another article about moving Phalanx around and how I’d seen a documentary about life at Devonport where they showed a fork lift truck getting a Phalanx out of a warehouse that had LOADS of units in it and loading it onto a truck presumably to take to be fitted on a ship somewhere. I got the impression that shifting Phalanxes around was pretty routine.

      As long as the mounts and wiring are left permanently in place, which I assume they are, it isn’t a whole lot different to loading other provisions such as pallets of baked beans, munitions or whatever. By definition if a vessel is preparing to sail with Phalanx installed there will be RN personnel assigned to that ships company with engineering skill on Phalanx to complete the installation so I’m not convinced it’s much of an issue that they are installed and uninstalled as needed.

      You might argue that there is a danger of deciding a tasking is safe and not installing Phalanx and then getting into trouble but that’s a slightly different issue. Especially when T26 comes into service when you then consider all the capital ships, escorts and RFA vessels that will have Phalanx mounts and how many might be in port/refit at any given time I think it makes sense to save a bit of cash by only provisioning for maximum vessels likely to be concurrently at sea rather than the whole fleet.

      Back to the 30mm, I don’t think they are as plug and play as the Phalanx so where are they in that first picture? Is that a 30mm at the top of the superstructure at the rear corner? I can’t quite see enough detail in the photo to be sure but there is definitely something mounted there.

      • Might be. I have one of those touch screen PC’s where you can expand an image on screen and I think I see the barrel facing forward.

        Yes I remember your comment re the Phalanx store. Curious how many MoD actually have.

      • Looking at some of the high resolution pictures of Cardigan Bay one of the 30mm is as you describe on Lyme, the 2nd one is in the same position on the other side.

      • Some of the Phalanx in Guz where land based in Afgan and Iraq. Mounted on trucks they where used to shoot down incoming rockets and mortars. They where maintained by RN Engineers with assistance from the Army who provided ammo loading teams.
        RN PO and CPO tiffs and Squaddie NCOs do not make a good mix…the army are just so serious and well…”regimented” in their routines.
        Anyway they did a good job out there but now they are back.

        Most Phalanx ships are FTR(Fit To Receive.). The base is there. The Cooling water connection and the wiring is in place. The magazine lockers are bolted on. You do the install and set up of the mount and the control consoles and after a few weeks you are ready to go and do a high seas shoot. Not exactly Plug and Play as some people believe weapon systems take time and effort to integrate , set up , train on and prove before they are ready to use.

      • 30s are aft on the bridge wings.
        Not really plug and play either. Again you bolt them on , wire them up and do the set to work. It takes a couple of weeks

          • I’d Love to see a plug and play VLS we could add to OPVs and the RFA, surely there is room on Lyme bay for a little sea ceptor coverage.

          • Plug and play VLS would mean having a rather large hole in the deck Andy, you’re better off with something like a RAM mount.

            As for actually fitting missiles to RFA ships and OPVs, its a nice idea, and in wartime it would definitely help the RFA ships, but its an exercise in futility.
            An OPV is at most only going to fight pirate boats, with the small chance of a heavy machine gun or RPG, it doesn’t need anything more than a cannon mount, miniguns, and a radar for locating small surface contacts over large distances (I still don’t understand why the Rivers cost so much, its such a simple tasking and yet they’re gold plated to the extreme).
            Self defence capability for RFA ships would be great in wartime, but currently it would just be a drain on our insufficient missile stores and budget.

  3. Just a thought, how about and extra Bay class and fewer river classes? Not really comparible I know but in terms of flexibility and capability?

    • The issue with that is that we don’t really need another Bay class as much as we need more ships, even OPVs. Between the 2 Albions and 3 Bays (and a QEC operating as an assault ship), we’ve got enough capability to land about as large of a marine force as we can still muster. Meanwhile, we’ve got a huge volume of water to patrol, and at the very least OPVs free frigates and destroyers up from tasks they’re not needed for. Sadly, I don’t think a Bay would be much use trying to chase smugglers or pirates.

  4. Misread that as ‘Largs Bay’ – was thinking we had bought it back.

    The Bay class are fantastic vessels, so it’s good to see Lyme Bay going through refit and rejoining the fleet.

  5. Don’t get all excited everyone. One of the others will be off into refit soon enough. It’s not like we fund enough crew for all three.

    And on the Phalanx units, how many short are we and how much does it cost to keep moving around the ones we have? Would it be better to not share important kit and actually have enough of it to go around?

    • Better: yes. Possible with current budget: no. Honestly though, its bad, but not awful. I mean, its not like Dauntless is using her Phalanx mounts or Aster missiles, so why not put them on operational ships? The MoD needs to be smart with the money they’ve got, if ships are stuck in port and not going to sail for a long time, pinch pennies and keep the rest of the fleet operational by looting them.

  6. It would be interesting to know how many phalanx units the navy actually owns. If i read correctly, the one that was used by the ground forces to protect the british base was pulled off a ship, meaning that there clearly isn’t any spares, but is there enough to cover the full navy in the time of conflict.

    • Even in a time of conflict, the entire navy couldn’t sail. The manpower doesn’t exist to get even the ships that aren’t in refit deployed simultaneously


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