With the planned decommissioning of the HMS Ocean in 2018, there is a serious need for the Royal Navy to have a dedicated amphibious warfare capable ship in order to deploy the Royal Marines and a large number of helicopters during a crisis or a conflict situation. 

The Egyptians recently purchased two Mistral Warships which were destined originally destined from Russia. The question is: should the UK have purchase similar ships from France? On a strategic level, certainly I would argue yes in the short term, but from a longer term political perspective this would not have been the appropriate decision for a number of reasons including:

  1. British warships are built in UK shipyards. This has been a long time standing tradition. In an effort to secure jobs in the UK, orders for the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier along with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales created 1,000’s of jobs and also a whole supply chain to go with it.
  2. It would run counter to the UK ‘shipbuilding strategy’ which plans on developing homemade warships with the aim of also being able to export these to other markets around the world.
  3. A purchase of French warships would serve as an ‘embarrassment’ for the British government, which would provide political constraints on such a purchase.
  4. The UK needs to develop its home grown defence industries, and there is a need to build warships in the UK to create economic demand and growth in its maritime shipbuilding industry.

However, there are strategic reasons as to why the UK needs to have a ‘Mistral’ like amphibious ship. HMS Ocean (the current flagship of the Royal Navy) is currently involved in disaster relief operations in the Caribbean. She has also in the past bolstered NATO’s mission during its military interventions in Libya, and also during the 2003 Iraq War as part of a Royal Navy task force deployed under ‘Operation Telic’ in a helicopter assault role.

During the 2012 London Olympics she provided counter-terrorism operations providing logistical support and a helicopter landing site. The decommissioning of the HMS Ocean will mean there is a military gap in capabilities, and a new class of ship is needed to take on this role.

While purchasing Mistral class amphibious ships may have in the short term been able to augment the UK’s ability in carrying out amphibious assault capabilities, it would not have been realistic given the tightening of the UK defence budget, the manpower shortage in the Royal Navy, and the ongoing difficulties in the Royal Navy being able to operate a number of functions.

In an ideal situation, the Ministry of Defence along with the backing of the Government would have commissioned a study for the replacement of the HMS Ocean which would include possible future ships, and incorporate it into the Royal Navy’s new ‘National Shipbuilding Strategy’.

As the French Mistral class has shown, there is a growing need for amphibious warfare ships. We published an article looking at the global market here.

With the rise of China and its amphibious capabilities, to the current strategic and military crises in the Middle East, as well as nation’s in NATO and Eastern Europe having to deal with a resurgent Russia, there is greater demand for increasing maritime capabilities across the board.

So while I would agree that the purchase of Mistral class amphibious warfare ships in the short term would have been beneficial for the purposes of augmenting our defence capabilities, it would not have been economically prudent in the medium and longer term. Plus, the political constraints would have made such a purchase untenable. However, the lessons of the French exporting 2 Mistral class amphibious warfare vessels to Egypt demonstrates there is indeed an export market for these type of vessels.

In summary, I would argue there is still a need for the Royal Navy to commission a study into the relative utility of a new class of amphibious warship to be built in UK shipyards and be under the command of the Royal Navy, with the possibly of this new amphibious warship be exported to other allied countries and militaries.

Therefore, there needs to be a renewed focus on the development of a new cost effective class of helicopter amphibious carrier which would serve the functions and mission parameters of the current HMS Ocean, fit for the future warfare of the coming decades of the 21st century.

97 COMMENTS

  1. The first four points of this article or all aspects of the same: buy British or else. I am not convinced that this quite the right approach. First off I cannot shake the feeling that the construction of some ships had more to do with Scottish independence than defence. Second, focusing on the construction of ships seems to me to miss the point. If a hull can be built in say South Korea to a high quality at a discount why not have it built there? Think of an iPhone, it may be built in China but the real value, design, advertising, marketing, IP is retained in the US. Similarly, a hull could be built abroad, but designed in the UK, and fitted out with things that have a higher value to the UK economy such as electronics, missiles, software, sub-systems. In fact, I think the bare bones construction element is too often the focus of concern and not systems. A simple example might be that you spend less on the hull and put that money into seed capital for a UK built harpoon replacement.

  2. Answer …yes! Please god lets get a replacement (ideally 2 vessels of this class to provide 100% availability) lph/ lphd capability. Ocean consistently proves her immense value wherever she goes!
    selling her to Brazil does open up a gaping hole in our amphibious warfare and indeed ASW capability. The size of vessel is that of an ASW escort carrier of old. Much needed and always useful for naval tasking.
    Just need to find some money and personnel from somewhere….maybe the foreign aid budget, or maybe the EU would like to give us some of our billions back.

    • The money is already there Mr Bell.

      That’s why we can spend £50 million on a garden bridge in London that didn’t even get built.

      Or £50k on wine and champagne for the foreign office.

      Or millions of pounds in old police investigations just because of media pressure.

      The money is there mate, we just decide to waste a bucket load of it.

    • looking at the similarites between ocean and a bay class, one opportunity to replace ocean could have been to to remove thesuperstructure of a bay class and replace it with a full deck.

    • not going to happen, and never was there are better alternatives such as converted full deck bay class or the japanese type h.l.p

  3. According to Wikipedia..

    “The build was to commercial standards, reducing costs significantly and leading to a construction spend of £154 million (£283 million in 2015)”

    So could we realistically build one today for under £300m?

    I’m not an expert on shipbuilding but if it has been done before quite recently then surely that could be done again.

    At that price as well for such a valuable multi role asset. It seems like a no brainier to me.

    • It always amazed me at how cheap she was built, that the embarked helicopter fleet would cost more than the ship. Luckily helicopters won’t be going with Ocean (assumbed) so we would only have to build the ship. I feel that at this price we should definitely look at replacing her.

    • if we won’t give the r.n warships,a new ‘ocean’ type ship is a non starter for me, while we’re at it why not bin albion and bulwark?

      • You must have second sight. It looks like we are going to bin Albion and Bulwark. It seems storming mined and defended beaches has had its day. Helicopter borne assault from beyond the range of artillery and anti- ship missiles is the future. Replace Albion, Bulwark and Ocean with 3 full deck new build Korean Bays.

  4. The problem with Ocean was that she was built down to commerical standards, I heard one ship designer of many years experience call her “a north sea ferry with a deck stuck on top”.
    PoW will have a Lit M – air manoeuvre package of 9 Merlin HM2 & 5 Crowsnest, 12 Merlin HC4, 3 Chinook, 8 Apache, 6 Wildcat 2 x Air Man Coys, and LF HQ ELM.
    In addition 6-8 F35b for force protection.
    Ocean looks anemic by comparison.

        • Yeah it’s still something, it’s better than nothing but like I’ve said elsewhere it’s not 100% ideal.

          Just going off the last major operation 40 and 42 commando were flown in using over 40 chinooks, 80 helicopters in total, over a 1000 men.

          If we don’t have a replacement for Ocean then there is no way we could conduct a major amphibious operation without US help.

          • I disagree, we have Albion, Bulwark several Bay class and a carrier for transport. We could very easily land and deploy the Royal Marines Brigade for a full scale operation.

          • the u.k dropped the ball retiring the invincible class which were more than able to take on the role, as illustrious did when ocean was in major refit.

    • One of the early problems that came to light, resulting from the use of a commercial design, was that the Ocean had a hard chine just above water-level. This would’ve been ok in a merchant vessel but when operating LCPs alongside whilst transferring personnel, there was a high risk in anything but flat calm of the chine coming down on top of the smaller vessels putting lives at risk. To overcome this problem, she had to be taken back into dock to have a fillet piece put in place which is still very evident when you know what you’re looking for.

  5. The Uk is so short sighted these two ships where just sat in the dockyard waiting to be sold 950 million euros and Egypt sold them to russia for one euro.We should have bought these we would have been able to operate LCAC from them we could have bought the two Michael Fallon is a complete waste of space as Secretary of State for Defence

    • its rumoured that the egyptian navy is unhappy with one of the two mistral they bought,they’d been left lying around for too long and developed keel issues, maybe we were right to have kept out of it.

    • beware the money men, they’remore of a danger than any foreign military fallon isn’t rubbish its the treasury, and procurement departments who we should be having a ‘pop’ at

  6. There is no money or manpower available for any new LPH. The 2nd carrier, in the LPH role will be at 30 days notice and can carry all the helicopters required plus some fighters. A like for like replacement carrying 18 helicopters and say 750 troops will cost at least £500 million and need a crew of maybe 150 and as much as I would like that its just not feasible. As an alternative why not convert one or two of the Point class to aviation support. Put a hanger under the bridge and extended aft for 6 Merlin and fill the hull with modular berthing for 500-600 troops. We could convert two of them for probably half the price of a new LPH. Considering how little appetite there now is for boots on the ground its probably more likely we would use the ships in the aviation support role far more than we will in their current configuration. Early design concepts for the FSS shows a large Chinook capable flight deck and a hanger for 3 Merlin. Even 1 carrier an converted Point and an FSS could embark the required number of aircraft.

    • I agree Stephen it’s good that we have the second carrier available for that. But it doesn’t solve all our problems.

      The required deck space to land 2 full brigades of marines by air is not there with just POW.

      We don’t even have the capacity to do it now but it’s a capability gap we all seem to miss.

      The last amphibious assault we did in Iraq was called off using landing craft because the Iraqis heavily mined the surrounded beaches so we had to go in by air, I think we used 40 or so chinooks off the Wasp classes and used Ocean as well.

      It took a while for RM engineers to clear the beaches so the vehicles could be landed to make inland manoeuvre.

      If we sailed half way round the world with Bulwark and Albion and the Bay classes and the beaches were mined then it’s no amphibious assault. We need to have the capability to land by air as well.

      That’s why the USA have a fleet of 10 LPHs, they know the score.

      We must try find the money in the budget for even a like for like replacement.

      If we had Ocean or similar and POW we could just about manage a full air lift of marines, and finally we would have proper independent amphibious forces to land in all scenarios.

      Nice idea with the point class, they could be modified to give us more use out of them when needed.

      • I agree that a like for like for like replacement would be preferable as it gives 3 flat tops allowing 2 for any operation but I think the manpower even more than the cash is the problem. I think we might need to face the fact that we cant do an airborne assault of that magnitude again. 12 merlin HC4 can lift 300 troops at a time which is good but not great. Could we squeeze a couple of Chinook in to the available space? Maybe but even 12 Merlin and 4 Chinook only moves 500 at a time. Helicopter availability may be an issue as well. We have 25 HC4 (20 in the forward fleet) and it looks like a few of the Chinooks may go in the next few years. To be honest I am not sure how I feel about helicopter only assaults anyway, the lack of heavy equipment means its only really feasible in certain scenarios. You are right to point out the issue of naval mines but could we build a few more MCM to ensure their availability? I am not sure if that would be cheaper than replacing Ocean but worth consideration at least.

        • You’re probably right, although I do think it’s something we should look at fixing in the future when the Albion class need replacing, our allies and enemies all have them so it’s a definite capability gap.

          But like you said we can still lift a fair few so all is not lost.

          And yeah air assault is always a last resort, I think there was an operation to clear the mines but there was just to many of them, Operation Telic,

          https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2003/iraq-ops_lessons_ukmod_dec03_opsiniraq.pdf

          Page 13 it starts, it’s not long but it’s a good account of what happened it’s a good read.

          • My ideal solution would be replacing the LPDs and LSDs around 2035 with four new ships. The first 2 would be essentially improved Albions, a 30 metre hull plug aft of the superstructure allowing a hanger for 3 Merlin and an increase in troop capacity to 750. Then the 2nd pair to replace the Bays, exact same ship but delete the C4 facilities and 1/2 the well deck size and add extra lane meters for more vehicles. One of the most important things I think is to get the 2nd LPD active. We will struggle to justify replacing both if 1 is still inactive.

    • manpower shortages could be addressed better by identifying the ships in most need, making all training establishments complete courses on the same day allowing’mass drafting to those vessels.

  7. Danger of building a ship to commercial standards is that you significantly reduce their warfighting capability.

    The RN is suppose to be a warfighting force not a civilian one.

    For example commercial standards do include the ability to sustain damage from enemy attacks, whereas ships built to naval standards should be able sustain battle damage and maintain operational capability.

    A replacement for Ocean would be nice it’s not a high priority given the cost and use of manpower available.

    The priorities are the carriers, f35, t26, t31 and astute. It’s seems we have trouble paying and manning those assets without to the them.

    • theopvis a larger platform than many realise, fitting a gun, or better still a raytheon combined anti air and ciws system(cheap at just$900,000 per unit rim 116 on the ‘pointy end’ a ship containerised towed array and you’d have a corvette type vessel . most tasty modern corvettes operate on similar platform sizes, ship containerised anti submarine system(yes they do exist) would turn a patrol boat into a nasty little beastie. the system is now used by over a dozen navy’s and is being used as a standard fit to all u.s warships including their new carriers.

      • Yes, containerised Schiebel camcopter, towed sonar array and ARCIMS are here today. Containerised CAMM which can be directed by Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye I think would be an obvious addition, plus the ability to provision a Wildcat amd lily pad a Merlin would make the River 2 rather more than a ‘failed BAM’ OPV.

  8. I think an idea would be for France to build us two mistral to replace ocean bulwark and Albion, and in return we build them a qe class with cats and traps as both countries are already up to speed building their retrospective designs.

  9. Tories are looking for £30bn of defence cuts over the next ten years.

    Labour? Well we all know what Corbyn says “Join every campaign. Fight all the cuts.”

    ‘Except those in the Armed Forces. Where we want to see a few more cuts taking place.”

    ‘And no more nuclear weapons.’

  10. Also worth remembering that an LPH is not a warfighter in the traditional naval sense, its main warfighting capability are the marines it carries, and they do their fighting on land.

    An LPH doing a full amphibious assault would not even be attempted unless near total naval and air supremacy was achieved.

    It would also be part of a wider fleet with a lot of protection.

    So the commercial build is not as an important factor as some believe.

    • Plus over 90% of the time their tasking is more likely to be disaster relief or other operations where military standards are not required.

      I would say that converting a couple of Points and/or making use of a suitable flexible MARS SSS design (and maybe adding a hull or two from the aid budget in recognition of the blindingly obvious fact that that is what they will be doing on most of their active deployments) would seem to me to be the way to go. A good MARS SSS design should also be exportable exploiting the same sort of scalability that BMT’s Aegir design has already demonstrated (37,000t variant for the RN, 26,000t for Norway).

      • Yeah true there is that as well good point.

        I would take anything really at this stage, as long as it fits the requirements of the Royal Marines to land by sea and air then I’m game for any design.

    • Except where the US Navy uses the Wasp and America classes air wing of Cobras, Harriers and soon F-35s to stand in for carriers. Due to the only ships matching their firepower being the QEs.

  11. I agree. We could not take the jokes from the French about having to buy their ships. I do hope the MOD are thinking about a replacement and are not following the pretend it is not there approach, that they are following with the anti-ship missiles.

    On a side note, has anyone saw that Babcock and BMT have joined forces for the type 31 build. They have said that they will choose one of their two designs for the bidding process and work together on it. This is great news because it gives them a better chance against BAE and allows them to pool their tech making the ships cheaper and better equipped.

    Babcock’s Arrowhead 120 and BMT’s Venator-110. I personally prefer the arrowhead.

    • If it went like the anti-ship missiles, Ocean would get a slight reprieve. The situation with the missiles is a lot better than the LPH situation.

  12. Me included. It seems such an obvious opportunity. If a carrier with a flat top can be replenished then surely a stores ship , also with a flat top can supply her. The design will take some thinking about. Also , like your thoughts Mr Bell. Two multi role vessels would really boost capability.

    • Can’t help thinking the RN is on another track. Just a feeling, but woildn’t a ‘squadron’ consisting of a MARS FSS with a well deck and a couple of River 2’s would give you almost as many landing spots plus some containerised air defence and mine clearance and inshore force protection if you needed it.

  13. So equipping the RN warships that are incapable of surviving actual combat is the way ahead, because such event in percentage terms is unlikely.

    Military has to survive the test of combat, when it does not our service personnel get killed in great numbers. Remember the incident at Bluff cove, two RFA ships built to commercial standards under attack badly damaged and many lives lost.

    Why do we need a RN then? Just the odd disaster relief operation, rescue refugees and see off pirates in a skiff.

    We should have armed forces that trained and equipped to fight actual wars if so decided by our democratically elected politicans. The failure to provide real warfighting equipment will in the end result in defeat or an inability to intervene.

    For those who don’t have a clue what building to naval standards compared to commercial follow the link

    https://www.scribd.com/mobile/document/42621845/Naval-Ship-Design.

    • This reminds of the time you got really really confused on here.

      When you were arguing that a company made a loss last year because the report was released in 2016.

      You sent the link and wrote “for those who don’t understand financial report dates”

      And then when you clicked on the link it said “2016 financial report for the business year 2015”

      😂

      Good times.

      • Welcome to business. figures for the previous year are always used when discussing current year losses or gains. which is why they are called 2016 financial results for the year 2015. How this impacts anything is another question, since anyone that knows how accounts work understand profit or less is down to what the company wants to report and not 100% linked to what really happened cash wise.

  14. Can’t HMS Ocean be kept in service for another 10 years to fiil the strategic gap in the short term? she is only 20 years old.

    I know there are crewing challenges. Longer term, yes develop a strategy

  15. You need to read the brand new National Shipbuilding strategy. The UK’s new policy is that amphibious warships can and will be built overseas by the lowest bidder. The only warships that have to be built in the UK are carriers, destroyers and frigates.

  16. At the risk of repeating myself – 8 Karel Doorman style Joint Logistic Support Ships (JLSS) built on the tide class hull would provide the UK with all the supply and amphibious capability it will ever need.

    Key Specs taken from wikipedia:

    LOGISTICS
    2 Replenishment-At-Sea masts, holding capacity of approx 8000 m3 of fuel, more than 1000 m3 of helicopter fuel, approx 450 m3 of potable water and approx 400 tonnes of ammunition and other supplies. Elevator and crane for up to 40 tons,

    AMPHIBIOUS
    2,000 lane metres for transport of material such as tracked & wheeled vehicles or containers.
    Roll on/roll off facility for vehicles
    stern steel beached (My plan is to use the lane metres and steel beach for Ship to Shore Connectors)
    2 LCVP’s landing craft.

    AIR FACILITIES
    Landing spots for operating two Chinooks simultaneously.
    Hangar with a storage capacity of up to 6 medium sized helicopters, including NH-90, CH-47F and AH-64D Apache.

    The ability to configure these for mission is exceptional and whilst I think the design could probably be improved slightly, why would we want anything more than this. How often will we deploy one of these vessels in amphibious configuration? My guess is that they will be used primarily as solid stores ships with 1 configured as a hospital ship as the standing amphibious ship.

    Add some ship to shore connectors to these running off the steel beach and you have the ability to have 6-12 helicopters, 2 Ship to Shore and 2 LCVP’s operating from these.

    Build them using the Aegir base build and you have the UK’s future Amphibious, Logistics, Hospital and humanitarian fleet sorted for the next 25 years.

    I don’t believe the UK can afford any other solution, we need a JLSS now more than ever – it just so happens that it will make a great amphibious assault asset with some compromise and imagination.

    • Don’t worry about repeating yourself mate, it’s a good idea that you have put thought and research into.

      Always welcome 👍

      Good amphibious specs for a multi role ship and with 8 of them there should be sufficient number with POW to Land our 2 brigades of marines.

      How many troops can they carry?

      It looks like there is no LPH replacement so maybe this is a possibility in the near future, of course built on the tide class hull then we are talking massive amount of value for monel as well.

      • Its quoted at about 100 – crew circa 200 +100, I am sure this could be addressed if say 400 needs to go on one, but clearly somethings got to give. Its main role is Logistics.

        I have to say I think an Absalon delivering Marines from CB90’s is my preferred option overall, as it gives us more ships and spreads our forces out. But as this just isn’t going to happen I think 8 JLSS and 8 FFT should be the backbone of the RFA going forward.

        The other thing I didn’t say is that these could also act as motherships for the Mine Countermeasures fleet in the gulf as well.

        Its a lot of flexibility for the price – and if you have seen the pictures of the Karel Doorman in the UK recently to load up for the Caribbean – it looks the biz.

        Ideally I would like dedicated ships – but the reality is 8 of these releases a lot of funds to spend on escorts and a couple more subs and for me that is more important. I would even be happy if we could afford the 64 Merlins these things are able to carry across the 8.

        Its all about where we spend our money for me and this just gives us so much for a relatively modest investment.

        • I am not sure we would save much money though. The JSS cost £400 million each, while our LPDs where only £450 for two (about 10 years previous admittedly). Our Bay class LSDs have the same capacity (about 2000 LM), more troops and our tankers carry way more fuel and aviation fuel than the JSS as well. At those prices it would cost £3.2 billion for 8, then at least another £250 to get us to 8 FFT. We could replace the four LPDs/LSDs a lot cheaper than that.

    • Agreed. It would not be as effective as HMS Ocean in the assault role but it would definitely fill a lot of roles that we urgently need.

    • Hi Pacman,I see where you are going with the JSS but I really feel they are for lesser navies who cant afford the single function ships we currently have. Before anyone jumps all over me, I realise we cant seem to afford what we have now either but our LPDs are far better platforms that the Dutch JSS. Those are a compromise, in terms of lane meters, fuel and cargo capacity. I think you are right about them not being used in their primary roles very often but they still need to be able to perform that primary role if needed. If we had 8 of them I think we would really struggle to give them connectors, we only have 25 HC4, 10 LCU and 16-18 LCVP. Like you say maybe 1 could be PCRS but still with 4 Tides and 2 Waves it might be overkill. Or are you thinking about 8 hulls to replace 2 LPDs, 3LSDs and 3 FSS? That makes sense from the prospective of hull numbers but single function ships are still better in my opinion. Of the 8 hulls we would need at least 3 slightly different designs and none would be exceptional at their given job. Our current set up and division of tasks between ships is excellent I think. LPDs for some troops, kit and C4, LSDs for lots of kit and some troops, Tides/Waves for fuel and FSS for spares and ammo. If we consolidated all that I get a horrible feeling we would loose numbers. As soon as a politician sees 8 ships that can all do the same thing they will instantly want to cut 1/2.

      • David – Yes my plan would be that these replace all the Bays, Argos, Ocean, Albion and Bulwark as well as all current non Tide class RFA vessels with 8 of these fully loaded with all they need to work properly, such as S2S connectors and 6 Merlins.

        I just think these are incredibly flexible vessels and I think if we place an order for 8 of this plus a further 4 FFT then that we should get these at circa £250m apiece (given the Tide pricing), as it is the same hull form after all (Aegir).

        I accept this is not to everyone’s liking, but the money saved can be used to buy escorts. And believe these would put us in a better place.

    • Pacman27 – I think you and I think along very similar lines on this but I do have a few observations on your proposal…

      If we were to build such a ship on the Tide Class variant of the Aegir hull (which to me would seem logical) then we are looking at a heavier ship than KD class, 36,000t vs KD’s ~28,000t and also, because we have the excellent Tide Class tankers soon to enter service, there seems no need to try to replicate KD’s tanker capabilities. Potable water and aviation fuel for onboard helicopters sure, but nothing else. Make it multi-purpose but do as few a things as it really has to as well as possible.

      With the higher displacement and dropping the requirement for it to be a tanker should help to give enough space for a very flexible vessel with vast solid supply spaces and vehicle lanes. Those empty spaces, with clever design, should allow flexibility for per-tasking reconfiguration to do some combination of (a) open up an area that the basic hangar can expand into to increase helicopter carrying capacity, (b) install containerised or palletised hospital beds and possibly other medical facilities so that a core hospital facility providing diagnostic, operating theatre, ICU and fairly modest non-ICU bed capability could be expanded if required, and (c) with provision of suitable hotel services outlets in carefully selected parts of the storage areas (which would also be required for hospital expansion) it could also accommodate containerised bunking and sanitation facilities for additional short-term troop capacity.

      A well dock is clearly a more tricky proposition but the relatively affordable Bay Class design has one, albeit a small one, so hopefully it wouldn’t be out of the question and in a ship of 37,000t vs 16,000t for a Bay I would hope that there would be scope for something bigger than a Bay has.

      As for numbers, who knows. We in theory are getting 3 from the MARS SSS program presumably to ultimately replace all current RFA SSS vessels so really unlikely to add anything for additional taskings. Perhaps (again, being brutally realistic) we have to accept that Ocean is going without any replacement so what does that leave us? Just maybe one extra one to replace Argus, one extra one funded from the aid budget to reflect the fact that, suitably configured for a task, this would be a fantastic relief vessel, and maybe by the time the first 5 are built it might be appropriate to look at one-for-one Bay replacements (the Bays are 10 years younger than Ocean and also built to commercial standards I believe so the timing might not be too far out in terms of when the Bays go out of service, or maybe even sell another one on to the RAN to accelerate things). That gives 4 or 5 possibly going up to 8 as Bays get replaced.

      Bulwark and Albion are younger than the Bays, built to military standards, and a unique capability for the RN so what replaces those when the time comes is a whole different issue.

  17. :whisper Hi kieranC… we have one Brigade of Royal Marines, hope you don’t mind me correcting you, but i think you mean landing two equivalent commando groups perhaps? not brigades..

  18. I’ll bite for an off the wall kind of spec for a class of at least 4.

    1. Capable of carrying 2 Sjold corvettes end to end (width 32metres), up to 60 knots, and a couple of LCACs, or 4 or more LCACs, capable of 45 knots.

    2. Speed 25 knots

    3. Large strengthened flight deck capable of 6 F35-B + usual helicopter and or transports

    4. Flexible

    5. Relatively minimal defense, CIWS

    6. Cost max £250 million 2017 prices

    7. Doddle – who wants to tender for that?

  19. All this chat, all this what ‘we’ want, all these plans. So, my curiously verbose friends, what are YOU going to do about it?

    /

    • Perhaps you can enlighten us to the best approach then. Shall I run for office and then envoke dictatorial powers to force through my plans for a naval buildup? Have you ever had a discussion about rail prices? Or how busy the roads are? Well what did you do about it? …… that’s what I thought. Have you ever discussed football? Did you then go manage the team? People like to discussing the RN and military matters in general maybe you should just let them. I realise this may be difficult as your default setting seems to be annoying git. Your continual whining is beyond tiresome. You contribute nothing to these discussions and your comments are about as welcome as Edward Snowden at the NSA Christmas party.

      • So, you are disempowered and dreamers who don’t even engage with the decision making processes. You just spend hours dreaming of what might be.

        • We use the news and discuss what is going on. Thats what the comment section is for. We are not politicians or high ranking military members, we don’t get a say in the decisions.

          Spending hours dreaming is better than what you do, which is come on here and be an idiot troll.

          • No. I don’t spend hours talking about what will never be. Impotence at its finest. I write to politicians at all levels constantly.

          • Given what you have told us before about the contents of what you send to politicians, you absolutely achieve nothing.

  20. Here we go again…
    I have written before on the pros and cons of Ocean , LPD’s V LPH and LHDs so I wont repeat it.

    Ocean was built to commercial standards at a very cheap price. The RN and Guz Dockyard then spent many years and millions of pounds adding in mil spec equipment. Things like mil spec water tight doors on passageways etc had to be installed. The final cost would have probably made it cheaper to buy the vessel all at mil spec standard to begin with. Now when you add in the fact that it is a one off with little supply chain support for its equipment most of which is now obsolete and unsupportable then in the long term it was an expensive buy.

    So why do you need mil spec vessels?
    Since the Falklands the RN has come within a gnats hair of loosing at least 4 vessels to collisions and groundings and the resultant flooding. Those incidents had nothing to do with war fighting. They happened whilst the vessels where doing there everyday jobs on a deployment. On one of those groundings its difficult to see how the vessel didn’t sink. Using the data available it should have. The unknown variable was the crew doing what they do best, using their own initiative and training with no command guidance ( Comms where down ) in flooded compartments. Thats what kept it afloat and the fact that it was built well and to military standards.

    We could do with an aviation platform with a dedicated dock built in but it will no doubt wait until the LPDs need replacing. Until then you do air assault by using the LPDs to lilypad the helos from a carrier to collect the Royals.
    The LPDs do have 2 spot flight decks and still give you the ability to go heavy on equipment and the support that Royal needs ashore, something that you cannot do with a LPH.
    Doing it this way are then leaving the aviation support requirements on a dedicated platform built to support aircraft and leaving the LPDs to do their dedicated jobs of carrying Royal and his kit.

  21. There is another way of looking at this. We will have two carriers, two LPD’s plus the Bay and Point classes. The Australians have Adelaide and Canberra and the French three Mistrals. Neither have air cover always available, if at all, nor do they have the sort of logistic capability provided by Albion etc. See Gunbuster.

    So… a joint Anglo- Australian or Five Nations task force, perfectly sensible if we are operating east of Suez This could easily become a permanent arrangement if desired with naves who know each other well. The other thought (or could be combined) is to have Mistral “attached” to a U k led battle group.

  22. So, all those who have spent hours writing on here in favour of this, that and the other, will you remain impotent? Or will you actually get up and do something about your beliefs?

  23. TH – I have informed you several times that I have written a detailed letter and presented proposals to the MOD and have also contacted my MP.

    Writing on sites like this does have an effect – do you have any idea where the term T31 came from, I suspect not – but it was think defence.

    I do think you add to the discussions on this site – but you need to stop baiting people please.

    • Many of us have also made representation into SDSR15 and the National Shipbuilding Strategy, so please do not think we are not active.

      Can I ask if the taxpayer alliance have done any forensic investigating into what is actually spent where in the MOD as from my own analysis I just cant make the figures add up, especially when you then hear what is happening on the ground.

  24. Here’s a thought. Albion and Bulwark must be up for replacement in about 2023/2024: why not replace them with a pair of the Spanish-designed LHDs that Australia has just bought as the Canberra class? Two of these ships would have about the same troop capacity as Ocean+Albion+Bulwark plus considerably more helo capacity, and there’d doubtless be manpower savings to be had from replacing three hulls with two. If they were bought on the same basis as the Aussie ships, the hulls would be built in Spain and fitted out in the UK, thus making at least some work for UK shipyards and allowing them to be customised with RN standard systems such as Artisan radar and Sea Ceptor SAMs.

  25. I know that I will get shot down here but in reality I would like to see replacements for HMS Ocean, Albion and Bulwark with something like HMAS Canbarra. That would mean that we could land three re-enforced armoured battlegroups. HMS Ocean, Albion and Bulwark would then pass to the RFA as international aid ships paid for by the aid budget to assist in desaster relief. This would then release the Royal Navy from this task.

    • I agree that HMAS Canbarra looks a fine ship but surely passing Ocean, Albion & Bulwark to the RFA would be as good a way of crippling the RFA as one can imagine? All those ships have high crew requirements and Ocean is getting increasingly maintenance-intensive as well. A year or so ago someone on ThinkDefence posted a list of the running costs of all the RN ships released under a freedom of info request and, even factoring for crew size, Albion and Bulwark were unusually expensive to run (I’ve no idea why). I would also worry about replacing those three vessels with just one and creating the French CdG effect of a single vessel in class being unavailable for extended periods.

      If we were ever to go the route of HMAS Canbarra type replacement I really think there would need to be two, even if they were run like the Albion class with one mothballed or in refit at any point in time and the Albion class sold on rather than transferred to the RFA.

  26. IMO, what the British need is to make a Deal with France on the Mistral class LHD or Spain with the Juan Carlos LHD or have a Nice long talk with America on the American Class LHD & the San Antonio class LHD.

  27. Buying Mistral looks like a moot point if the rumours that we are going to lose Albion and Bulwark in the next round of cuts come to pass. Such a move imply the MARS FSS having significant a well deck.

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