The Defence Secretary has revealed that, come 2030, the UK might work with another country to replace the Albion class.

The information came to light during a recent evidence-gathering session held by the Defence Committee.

Referring to the ongoing exploration of converting a vessel into a ‘Littoral Strike’ role, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace mentioned that the UK might work with another country to replace amphibious assault ships currently in service.

“As Secretary of State, I am quite pressing on the Navy to settle its mind about what it wants. I am confident that whatever ship they choose—Bay class, Argus or, indeed, Albion or Bulwark—can do the function, but the key here is how they wish to fulfil that. They all have strengths and weaknesses. Argus’s weakness is that it has a massive crew, because it is an old ship. Bulwark and Albion are fantastic, but they again require a big crew, although they have some real strengths. Bay class has a small crew—about 67, if my memory serves me right—but does not necessarily have the hangar space that you might want for helicopters.

They all have strengths and weaknesses. I have asked the Navy to make sure that it settles on an option. Come 2030, we may be working with another country to see if we can share a cycle of design for the next generation.”

British amphibious and sea-lift capability rests in the hands of specialised vessels, let’s take a look at those vessels.

The Albion class landing platform docks are HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

Their primary function is to embark, transport, deploy and recover troops and their equipment. Each ship can host 305 troops with an overload of a further 405. The class features a vehicle deck capacity of up to six tanks and around 30 armoured all-terrain vehicles.

The Albion’s also feature a floodable well dock, with the capacity to take either four utility landing craft (each capable of carrying a Challenger 2 tank) or shelter a hovercraft landing craft.

Four smaller landing craft are positioned on port and starboard davits, each capable of carrying 35 troops. Each ship features a two-spot 64m flight deck able to take medium support helicopters and stow a third or operate a Chinook. However, the Albion design does not have a hangar.

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.

 

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Blue Fuzz
Blue Fuzz
1 month ago

The Albions, Bays and Argus were all due to be replaced by up to 6 MRSS. Does this mean that the Albions may be replaced by something different, or that MRSS might be designed with an international partner?

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Blue Fuzz

The sceptic in me says it means that they’ve canned MRSS and won’t replace all 3 classes.
The optimist in me says we’ll partner with Italy or South Korea and come up with a decent design that we’ll be able to make a fair few of and license abroad to Australia and others. On the outside I could see this as another AUKUS project, but the US is never going to do serious shipbuilding with another nation, and Australia doesn’t have the capacity for those kinds of ships I don’t think…

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Might partner with the Dutch too potentially as I think their amphibious forces are quite similar to ours

farouk
farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

id go with the Dutch as well.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Yep, I’ll third that, there’s a natural ‘Marine’ relationship between our countries, a deep synergy of purpose among the personal and a close interest in co developing new amphibious shipping.

They get my vote!

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Oh, I hadn’t realised- I knew their marines were pretty good, but wasn’t aware they had a wider amphibious capability. Yeah, I’d be up for that partnership!

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

The Dutch were my first instinct too but would they be looking to buy enough to make them a viable partner financially ????

Last edited 1 month ago by Andy P
David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Weren’t the Bays based on the design of the Dutch/Spanish LPDs?

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Not sure mate, my thought was that if we bought 2 to replace like for like then the Dutch might only fancy one as opposed to a bigger country who might want a couple hopefully making them work out cheaper per unit. I’ve no problem with our Cloggy pals, quite the reverse, I’ve helped them invade Norway in the past, good guys despite being booties…

I’d be delighted if us, the Dutch AND A. N. Other all wanted to toss in but it can start getting messy when you have too many inputs.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I looked it up and the Bays were based on the Dutch Enforcer class. The Netherlands and Spain have one each, commissioned in the late 90s, so they should need replacing in a similar timescale.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  David

No issue with doing colabration as long as we put a bloody hanger on it

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Cheers David, was going to have a google when I got the chance. Different countries will run their ships harder than others and there are also finances to factor so timing might not fall into place. I’d be happy enough if the 3 countries were able to agree a timescale, even cast around to see if anyone else wants to pile on if it helps bring the unit cost down. We’ll see what we get.

Louis
Louis
1 month ago
Reply to  David

The Dutch have two, not sure about the Spanish. I remember the Dutch ships being quite different in terms of size but that’s all I know.
If we are partnering with the Dutch it makes MRSS less likely since they already have the new Karel Doorman.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  David

They are based on a Spanish design going by wiki.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

The HNLMS Rotterdam and Johan de Witt (basically similar to the Bays) are due for replacement 2030 and 2032 respectively, per a June 2022 Dutch Defense communication. So ties up with MRSS timeline.

What is interesting is that the Netherlands appears to be planning to replace both the Holland-class OPVs and Rotterdam-class LPDs with a single class of six vessels, despite the difference between the two existing classes. The new class would be “suitable for amphibious operations, maritime patrol duties and emergency relief.” per source below.

https://marineschepen-nl.translate.goog/nieuws/Defensienota-2022-010622.html?_x_tr_sl=nl&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago

That’s most interesting. I am in favour of larger OPVs if we are talking about how we patrol far off stations. Falklands,Indo-Pacific Oceans, Gulf and W.Indies.
Larger self contained ships with helicopter hangers drones etc also start to make sense as they are useful in a number of roles.
Ocean cruisers. Three funnels anyone?

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yeah that was my first thought, the Royals and the Dutch Marines inter-operate a lot.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Other nations who have a requirement for amphibious transport but varying hull number requirements Japan, Indonesia, France, Greece, Turkey, Singapore, Holland.

Philippines have just acquired some so wouldnt be in the market for replacement, US requirement would be different, another half dozen countries tend to operate a sole example so wouldnt generate order volume.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Italian next assault ship and landing dock has de codename LXD and will be 16000-22000t with 4 landing spots for large helicopters or 4 V-22.
Google search “LXD Marina Militare” shows some speculative designs.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

So you have done some research before you commented this time ? not so much with the CH1/2 T72 did you😅

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

😂👍

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Do you really think that was combat?

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Well if you think T72’s/T80 cooking off and launching a turret every time its hit and the massive amount of them being lost is a sign of a good combat tank , the lack of CH1/2 loses in combat a sign of a bad tank in combat is proper comparison for quality you seem to badly misinformed Alexski boy. Gulf war one especially, the CH1 was in thick of it , in the Iraq war, one CH2 tank took over 15 RGP hits and Milan hit all that was needed to fix it was the change of the gun sight… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

I see that it is now reduced from 70 rpgs to 15 rpgs,,,,
Well you are an idiot if you think an anedoct is a supported narrative.

Iraqui T-72 were much inferior T-72 in everything to not talk about Iraq army quality.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

The tank I was on about was hit by 14 RPG’s ,it was another tank that took 70 RPG’s I just googled it so thank you for helping me prove my point, also Dorchester composite armor far superior to any thing Russian , as I said Alexski you are out of your depth 😂

Last edited 1 month ago by dave12
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Uh?

Did the Iraqi T72’s pop their turrets faster than the OEM Russian ones?

Is that the export model advantage from Roboexport?

I’d say there could be an argument that the Iraqis were better trained than the current Russian army….

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

France?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

NON!

Hashmagandy
Hashmagandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Who?

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Hashmagandy

The difficult ‘European sorts’ with the great food across the channel, you must have heard of them….

A Foreign minded bunch who drive on the wrong side of the road.

JamesF
JamesF
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Australia – they are interested in MRSS too.

RobW
RobW
1 month ago

Given there is no design for MRSS, just some nice CGI images, the comments by the DS do not mean MRSS is canned or reduced in scope. He simply said that we might work with others.

The design stage is years away anyway.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago

Build 3 HMAS Canberra hulls configure 2 as primary LHD and the 3rd with less vehicle lane meter but larger medical facilites🙂? Total troop carrying capacity over 3k, large Helo/Vehicle carrying abilites and if required could also operate F-35B as lilypad close to shore for emergency refuelling or limited combat re-arm/fuel.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Would prefer something along the lines of US LHDs…., but if nothing else Canberras hulls would do.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

The US LHD’s are capable ships, but in reality quite old fashioned, incredibly man power intensive and very expensive to operate!

Now a modified and updated Canberra class, with deleted ski jump and strengthened flight deck with reduced crewing, would be a great asset to the RN.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

I’d keep the ski Jump and have 1 spot re-inforced to land F-35

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

A valid point, I just think we would rarely, if ever use them for F35 ops and more Helicopter and UAV deck space would be of greater utility?

Certainly very good reasons for both options…

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

with 3 hulls the 3rd fitted as part PCRS it could be used aviation training ship much like Argus. the main LHD would then at least be able to provide emrgency landing for F-35s while the QE class sits further offshore where the T-45 (83 by time these ever get built) and t-26 can work effectively

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

A very good point and a persuasive argument Steve.
Perhaps future UAV strike platforms in their own right.

A mini UAV strike carrier!

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Good idea.

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

As far as I am aware, the Canberra class does not need to be reinforced to operate F35B. It does need the heat treatment of the deck that every F35B operator does. If you were trying to operate F35B on a sustained basis in full carrier mode (ie multiple landing in a relatively short period of time), then it maybe a good idea for the reinforcement. However you can land a F35B & take off again even without the heat treatment. Navantia asked for & received the requirements for the F35B from LM at the design phase. The heat based… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

AUKUS etc….I think Radakin was on record at one point as wanting to replace the LPDs with LHDs – before the smaller MRSS concept came into the frame.

Jacob Meeson-White
Jacob Meeson-White
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I think going with the Canberra Hull is a great idea. Doing so would put us up to 5 ships capable of fixed wing operations. If they are considered, serious consideration should also be given to bringing forward the QE refits for the EMALS system and getting the F35C. If we prepare for the eventual conflict in the Pacific now we can prevent being caught with our pant down.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Well at least it looks like there is serious consideration around the recapitalisation of the amphibious fleet in the 2030s.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I’m quietly hopeful Jonathan, defence spending is going up the priority list for all the PM candidates.

Also, it’s becoming a Labour party priority too, so no matter which way the political wind blows, we can quietly hope defence spending ‘finally’ gets some serious consideration….

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Not so sure. One candidate is talking about cutting 20% from EVERY department’s budget……

Stc
Stc
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Yep, Tories in a typical tax cutting bun fight. Half at least neither will achieve because Vlad’s put payed to the easy target; or am I being naive thinking a politician would never put the reputation before defence of the realm ?

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Good grief, well they won’t be winning then!

It is interesting when you spell out the facts. We already had vast debt from the Credit crisis, the austerity cuts started to dent it, but Covid saw the funding taps turned full on and the financial rules ripped up!

Today, the interest alone on our debt is £80 billion a year, so scope for tax cuts is very limited.

We risk default on our debts unless we run a very steady ship, default would mean an all singing and dancing recession!

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

You have to remember that the end of repayment to lendlease and the Slave fathers did increase cash in the governments trousers. But never passed that savings on

Angus
Angus
1 month ago
Reply to  David

None of them has any idea about the big bad world out there. Need a bigger Fleet with capacity that can do wants needed when the time comes. Those LSG idea’s are a bit high in the sky and would be costly to support without sound shore assets and an place to land aircraft securely. Lots of young heads in the MOD coming up with lots of ideas that are far from new and mostly discarded many times over. And for the Albions replacement it should also have a big gun (5″) to give those ashore some on hand support.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Who is that?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

Must be one of the 20 odd. I’ve lost count. Call me crazy but how about no tax cuts until the deficit is at least halved and economy is growing at least 2 percentage points for a year.
Would prefer defence gets a boost and all staff get an at least matching inflation pay increase. Not keeping up with inflation is giving people a pay cut

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Back to the ships. Need to know what the forces need? A flat top? Big well decks?
I think with HMS ocean, Albion, bulwark, 4 bays and the point ships that gave a good capability and made each ship work well together.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

agreed it was a good mix only thing i would add would be hanger space on both LPDs and Bays. that’s been the biggest omission from our amphibious ability only having Ocean able to transport helo really reduced the package

David
David
1 month ago

The new Chancellor……..

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Strange. He also wanted to spend more on defence! Maybe that’s after the 20%!

Simon
Simon
1 month ago

TBH the main concern of most of them seem to be how much and how fast they can cut corporation tax. Somehow I don’t think it will be seen a vote winner

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Untill they get in the job and realise they is no pot to piss in

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

Well that’s true enough, very little to play with in the money bank without putting the economy in serious risk….

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

BAE Australia, HMAS Canberra ticks a lot of boxes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul.P
DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Based on the Juan Carlos. Hull built in Spain by Navantia and fitted out by BAE Australia

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

the Canberras are fresh out of the box, no way is Australia looking for a replacement at this stage, and probably the same goes for Spain as well, who actually desiged them.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I wasn’t thinking of a replacement. Just some out of the box for the RN…

Angus
Angus
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Turkey has also built the vessel with another on the way. A near perfect fit and a lot cheaper than reinventing the wheel.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus

I don’t think anyone is keen to work with Turkey after buying Russian kit and trying to block Finland and Sweden from joining NATO.

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

They could of course work instead with the original designer/builder – Navantia of Spain.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Not a replacement but to enhance a requirement. More to replace the bays.

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Would you ever have the superstructure and dock for any of these design at the aft so that you have a bit of runway to the fore for UAV launch unless you do a flattop style solution. Are there structural issue to putting the superstructure at the back with a dock at the same time?

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

Dunno. Sounds like a challenge for the naval architects.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

No chance it’s Australian as the Canberra’s are brand new. They might opt for an MRSS to replace their bay, otherwise it’s the Dutch. Personally I think 6 MRSS is a better mix. No specialised ships just 6 equal multi role.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

That’s the debate I guess. With 6 MRSS you get the ability to graduate your response, be in more than one place at once and not put all your eggs in one assault basket. But large through deck designs which give more options for drones and possibly a few F36B might be what the RN would really like to have if they can afford it. What about crewing? HMAS Canberra crew is around 300. Would MRSS be crewed more like. Bay class, 70 RFA?

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

We don’t have enough aviation facilities for our two existing carriers and a Canberra style LHD would always be a threat to them. It’s the graduated and flexible nature of MRSS I like able to launch and invasion or do MCM support or host a hospital.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

On balance I would agree, since we can guarantee always to have a QE carrier available. Also I understand the Ellida design concept for example comes in different size options.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yes definitely hoping for something in the 20,000 t range though. Steel is cheap and air is free after all.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Cheaper by the dozen 😊

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Seconded.

Paul C
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

I agree. Affordability is key. 6 x 15-20,000 ton MRSS would be relatively cheap to build and run and offer a lot of flexibility. Get into multiple types built in tiny numbers and the costs escalate rapidly. Easy to dream up new LPDs, LHDs etc. but the funding situation is tight and there are multiple expensive projects on the horizon, e.g. T83 and Tempest.

JamesF
JamesF
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Yes it’s Australia they are interested in MRSS

Oliver
Oliver
1 month ago

Germany has been wanting this sort of ship for a long time. They are working closely with the Dutch. Because of the 100 billion special wealth program they have enough money. The fact that the name of the country is not mentioned makes Germany even more likely.

Oliver
Oliver
1 month ago

German Navy has been asking for 2 ships like this for decades. They work together closely with the Dutch. Because of the 100 billion Euro special wealth program they have enough money but no expertise in building such ships. The Dutch have 3 LPDs one of them shared with the Germans.

Robbo
Robbo
1 month ago

I think the Amphibious capability is due some re-invigoration with recent world events. The threat to the Baltic States, and Sweden and Finland about to join NATO are significant. Protection of NATO’s Northern flank has long been one of the RM’s main Raison d’Etras and we have built up good integration between the RM and their Netherlands counterparts in this support. The Bay class were indeed modelled on the Dutch/Spanish Enforcer Class. There would therefore be a future potential for a UK Shipbuilder to work with Damen. The Swedish and Finnish navies have very little amphibious capability other than coastal… Read more »

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
1 month ago

Considering it was not long ago that there were fears that the two big Albions would be sold off and we would loose this capability, this can only be viewed as good news.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

Hi all… What does ‘man power intensive’ mean exactly?

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago

We should be looking at the karel doorman for the base design of all our large amphib / logistics ships

Damen and davey shipyards GLAM offer other alternatives

I suspect the key is do we go with a dock and caiman 90s or a steel beach and ship to shores. Both will need smaller vessels along the sides. Perhaps 6/8 CB90s.

It’s critical that solid stores areas are designed in or that armoured containers are used in the lane meters

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

We need to commit to 10 of these ships and start building now.

The reality is if we go down this route we will need to double the helicopter force as a KD design is a game changer for the RN and I don’t see that happening even though it really needs to if we are serious about getting somewhere quickly with force

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Good base design but need to more than double troop accom only transport 140 🙁 would extend accom/hangar back between the 2 RAS points maybe further, don’t see need to for 2 Chinnock size spots when 2 trips and all troops ashore. agree with CB90 types think RM would be able to use to great effect whether escorting LCU/LCPV or chasing pirates/smugglers
Need RN to decide do we build full Milspec warships with full DC/NBC and associated crew requirement (Albion) or build multiple RFA ships (bays) to rely on not having contested landing

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve M
Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Agreed and the key for me is maybe have 2 classes of 5 to 7 ships with the same base design but have some key differentiators. The KD with another level and as you say a build round the RAS masts that could accommodate the RAS/flyco would be a great addition and be able to accommadate a hospital facility or additional accommodation. I haven’t seen a design that really pushes the KD to the next level but think it can be done. Lane metres and container solutions are key to the logistics side of things imo. Perhaps it’s the best… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

Clue is who did we sell a bay class to. The western world has a similar desire currently to this type.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

I hope these new flight decks & hangers, will be sized for CH-53K & V-22, because , even if the UK does not have these, some of our allies do.

Just Me
Just Me
1 month ago

It will be the Dutch.

Email Ittome
Email Ittome
1 month ago

Since UK shipbuilding industry is going to work with Koreans on their Aircraft Carrier, maybe UK can collaborate on an upgraded Dokdo class of LHD. Initial ship of the class was commissioned in 2007, so by 2030, it’ll be at a point when ROK Navy might start looking for replacement. The current configuration is not too big, but it’s big enough to carry 15 helicopter and 700+ soldiers, with 300+ crew. Adding an additional vehicle deck and lengthen it for one more helicopter landing spot would make it useful for RN. It should be built to operate F35B, but not… Read more »