The UK is set to acquire two Littoral Strike Ships with the ability to launch troops and their equipment via helicopters and boats.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that the UK will purchase the vessels:

“Take the Royal Navy. They are exerting British influence through greater forward presence. I want to capitalise on that. Investing now to develop a new Littoral Strike Ship concept. And, if successful, we will look to dramatically accelerate their delivery. These globally deployable, multi-role vessels would be able to conduct a wide range of operations, from crisis support to war-fighting.

They would support our Future Commando Force. Our world-renowned Royal Marines – they’ll be forward deployed, at exceptionally high readiness, and able to respond at a moment’s notice bringing the fight from sea to land.

Our vision is for these ships to form part of 2 Littoral Strike Groups complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters. One would be based East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic. And, if we ever need them to, our two Littoral Strike Ships, our two aircraft carriers, our two amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark, and our three Bay Class landing ships can come together in one amphibious task force. This will give us sovereign, lethal, amphibious force. This will be one of the largest and best such forces anywhere in the world.”

Vessels like this are often called Expeditionary Transfer Dock’s (at least, by the US) and are typically a large auxiliary support ship to facilitate the ‘seabasing’ of an amphibious landing force by acting as a floating base or transfer station that can be prepositioned off the target area.

Troops, equipment, and cargo would be transferred to the vessel by large-draft ships, from where it can be moved ashore by shallower-draft vessels, landing craft like the landing craft or even helicopters.

Is this practical?

The United States already does this with the USNS Lewis B. Puller (pictured above), a floating staging base for U.S. operations in the Central Command Region, an asset that is uniquely suited to facilitate special operations missions.

The vessel has a sister ship, the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, there are another three of this ship type planned by the US.

The vessel is a modified Alaska class oil tanker design.

The US Navy say that Puller has the third-largest flight deck in the naval services after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships and can also launch small boats or unmanned surface vehicles from its mission deck.

In addition, vessels of this type can be configured with containers to support almost any mission.

230 COMMENTS

  1. This sounds like a good idea and increases the capability of the Royal Navy. It would be interesting to know whether these will be purpose built and if so where, or whether they will be converted. If purpose built, lets hope they will be classed as warships and built in the UK.

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

    Feel free to sign and share this petition, we’re getting there slowly.

  2. Wouldn’t be surprised if these are built by the Us seeing as they have to knowledge and recent history. So makes logical sense.

    Mixed RFA/RN/RM crewed.

  3. That’s a surprise. It’s not often that we get the announcement of 2 pretty sizeable new vessels out of the blue.

    So possibly converted oil tankers with reasonably significant aviation facilities and due to size I assume a good amount of internal space? Doesn’t sound that dissimilar to Argus so perhaps the first one of these coming into service, maybe in combination with the previously talked about possibility of a hospital ship funded by the foreign aid budget, would clear the way for Argus to be decommissioned. If all that happens then one heck of a lot better plan that quietly retiring Argus with no replacement.

  4. Wow didn’t see this coming.

    I believe the US pre positions assets at Deigo Garcia, maybe that could be the location of the East of Suez vessel?

    The DS makes the Amphibs force sound great talking of all 3 Bay and the 2 LPDs joining together.

    If only that were reality. The spare LPD is a shell I believe when not in use.

    The 3 Bays coukd be used together if only we had other vessels to be MCMV support ships in the Gulf and another to replace the Bay in the Caribbean.

    There’s been a lot if talk of the SD Victoria being used in this role in addition to training.

    So what’s the catch?

    Cost? Builders? RFA or RN? Who will crew them? What is cut? f these are in addition to existing assets then great. I always smell a rat with the MoD I’m afraid.

    • We sold Ocean to Brazil for a fair market price as a hot swap as it had been in service for twenty years and the QE class is coming on line. Brazil had a need for a vessel of that type and it helps them out of a bind as the Nao Sao Paulo was no longer economically practical to run on. It allows them to at least keep a toe in the Carrier game until they have made a decision about their planned future indigenous Carrier program. It is a good exercise in UK soft power that ensures Brazil is held close to UK industry when it comes to defence procurement.

      What is being proposed here is conceptually a very different type of vessel to be used in a different role.

      • if we can suddenly afford these, why was ocean not replaced like for like? or her proposed sister ship built? i smell a con here. (but i’m just a cynic).. i don’t think the t 31e will happen either!!

  5. This Is so very Vague, Are these ships New Builds, Conversions or Pipedreams ?
    I don’t seem to remember them being part of the 168 billion. It all sounds a bit at odds with the black Hole in defence funding.
    Anyone have any actual facts ?

    • Maybe foreign aid budget. That hasgot £15 billion a year which we seem to squander. Would only take £500 million from that budget to build these 2 forward base vessels. With the loss of Ocean this is a great idea steel is cheap, thus get the largest damnvessel you can afford and cram it with helicopters. A modern day Atlantic conveyor.

      • Need the helis first!

        CHF has 7 at the moment I believe!

        Maybe this was in mind with that announcement of the new Chinooks.

        • That is an insult to every tax payer in the country. India has nuclear weapons, a space programme and frankly is an utter shithole, having been to a few cities and rural areas, I feel qualified to say that. I wouldn’t object to them spending UK aid on building some sewers or cleaning up the piles of rubbish everywhere, stopping it enter the oceans.
          We donate nearly £200m quid a year to a country that frankly no longer deserves it.

          Nearly £400m to Pakistan, WTF?

      • when i google and see how much money and where it goes to i get angrier and angrier! the numbers are a disgrace, millions to nations who harbour and allow terrorists to operate on their soil,(pakistan) the same amount to a nation with the regions biggest economy,(india) another shedload of money to a nation run by inept despots who waste it while those who DO need help go without(nigeria).

    • I second the where is the crew coming from? we cant even man our current ships let alone 2 new ones. the forces need to drag themselves up to compete in the work market, civvy street is far more appetising straight out of school these days

    • DFID has £15 billion that is squandered every year. Order 4 of these vessels and fund the crew and helicopters and boats and all operational costs from DFID and label them disaster relief vessels. Creative accountancy, the Tory party know all about that.

      • when i google and see how much money and where it goes to i get angrier and angrier! the numbers are a disgrace, millions to nations who harbour and allow terrorists to operate on their soil,(pakistan) the same amount to a nation with the regions biggest economy,(india) another shedload of money to a nation run by inept despots who waste it while those who DO need help go without(nigeria). the millions going to syria and afghanistan are an apology for bombing the cr*p out of them methinks

  6. Hope they are purpose built as the US ships look ugly.
    Also confused how they are different from a normal amphibious ship like we have already? Are they smaller, less navalised or tankers converted on the cheap with a Heli deck and a hanger?

    • Our LPD with well dock carry LCU LCVP and numbers of RM, as well as considerable C3 facilities.

      I envisage these to be much more basic. Floating SF bases basically.

      The US has these types of vessels already.

    • I hope they get ordered new with the solid suport ships so thy last longer and are modern and all get built at the same yard in the uk to save money, or even convert two old RFA vessels like the old forts but I think RFA fort George has already been scrapped hasn’t it.

      • speaking of lasting longer how long did pakistan get out of the 6 type 21’s they had, maybe the first retiring t23 in exchange for their return, refit, upgrading with all new systems could fill the gap waiting for the clyde to actually deliver something! 6 short term frigates bought for very little outlay, might be worth considering? very, very popular and capable ships in their time re equipped with ceptor e.t.c nice especially as they’re already built.

    • The picture released by 1SL appears to be closely based upon the US MV Ocean which is a conversion from a fast RoRo. It is on the whole a smaller and arguably more handsome solution than the tanker based Expeditionary Transfer Dock.

      If this is going to come to be then expect a conversion, there are more than one UK yard that would appreciate the conversion work.

  7. so are these going to be replacing the gap left by HMS Ocean,quite a shock that we are getting 2 I just hope this does not affect the number of frigates,we all know they like to penny pinch so where has the money come from or what is being planned to scrap something else to pay for them??

    • They wont replace Ocean, no.

      SF use or company sized RM deployments I’d imagine, using small boats and helicopters.

      As for your other worries. I agree.

      Maybe the DSF budget, which is considerable, and which is separate from other areas, pays for them?

      • Where is it stated that SF budget is seperate? Should GCHQ et al now come under Defence, I.m confused with SF not being so.

        Great idea, where do the boys and girls come from?

        Names? Wishful and Thinking.

        • GCHQ SIS SS consider Single Intelligence Account. Not part of Defence Budget.

          DI does come under Defence Budget as it is indeed a part of the MOD.

          DSF reports to the VCDS st the MOD. It’s been stated many times it has it’s own budget separate from the TLBs of the 3 frontline commands and DES.

        • Riga.

          DSF has it’s own “voice” and funding stream within MoD. Still a part of MoD budget, though separate from that of the other TLBs, Top Level Budgets, Land. Air. Fleet. DI. DES. DIO, etc.

          Not separate like thecibtelligence services, which are part of the Home Office and FCO.

          Cheers.

        • BAFFLED, THANK YOU, the archers(fanny boats)are a total waste, a squadron of those, say 8 or 9 to replace the poor old sabre. in the gib squadron. and see if they are worth the prefix of h.m.s

  8. Can’t find anything on any Official site about this. Also, given that they are “Strike” Ships I guess they will be classed as Warships so will be built in the UK ?
    It is worrying what might be axed though.

    • They are “Strike ” ships because UKSF and USSOF will delpoy off them using heli.

      Floating special ops bases.

      We are not talking ocean replacements, amphibious landings, LCU LCVP, armed to the teeth with sea viper !

      I’d imagine boats would include RIB, RRC, ORC, and the HSIC used by the SBS and seen racing round Poole harbour on a regular basis.

      • But They are Littoral Ships, I’m guessing they will have some sort of Defensive Systems especially carrying such important “cargo” just off shore. This whole “What Is a Warship” business, just adds to the confusion of our Government Members.
        Call them Warships, Build them Here In the UK, preferably in England before we actually lose all Capability.

        Then we can have a “National Shipbuilding Program”.

        • I’d hope so Captain, at the very least some guns and the usual Defensive aids.

          And yes, build them here. I’d say convert them here more likely. Argus and Dilligence were conversions I recall?

          • Because that is their role…to loiter off coasts saving the carrier from doing it.

            Why would a 3 billion Fleet carrier be needed to launch a couple of Chinooks inland on a mission? Or some small boats or SDV?

    • @capt p wash. I think this is coming from a speech the Def Sec is giving at RUSI, he also has mentioned squadrons of drones being used to overwhelm air defences and the deployment of QE in2021 (as per another article on this site)

  9. Wait, new ships? Gav’ you’re meant to be cutting the RN down to only one ship because that’s clearly all we need according to HMG.

    Joking aside, this is an interesting development. The ‘Special Forces’ spin is always a good way of securing some extra funding, but I do wonder if these ships would come at a cost. Would one of these ships basically be a ‘replacement’ for Argus? That would be better than simply cutting her with no replacement and would increase the need for a dedicated hospital ship.

    But also, would these vessels be RN or RFA? New build or conversion? So many questions, this is going to be an interesting one.

    • Lusy the proposed hospital ship can’t be a replacement for Agus, the rules around hospitals ships would prevent that (they include a legal obligation to allow search by opposing powers etc), the legalities mean a hospital ship does not fit allied joint doctrine for medical support (with UK national elements), although there is nothing to prevent a change in doctrine a Hospital ship (as legally defined) does not fit with UK requirements for an afloat role2E MTF or role3 MTF. Having your MTF on a warship allows you to manage wider security and stabilisation elements of a deployment, which although mainly medical in nature may have other elements or have a deployment around wider security and stabilisation that includes a significant medical element. A hospital ship can only ever provide medical care, that’s it nothing else and would need a second vessel deployed for other elements of security and stabilisation. So consider agus can be used in lots a deployment, were as a hospital ship becomes a waste of manpower and skills. On the surface I’ve always liked the idea of a hospital ship, when you dig it’s got the potential, because of recruitment and manpower issues in the RFA/RN to really be a problem.

      The two US hospital ships are frankly white elephants that just piss money away without massive benefits (they are just to big, have to many beds and are to resource heavy,who can staff what is effectively a city hospital) Agus on the other hand is probably one of the most cost effective (considering impact vs cost) ships the RN has afloat. She may look old and ugly (ok she is), but she’s far more use than any white elephant hospital ship.

      • Well aware of the rules.

        Still think a pair of hospital ships would do wonders for soft power and would free up Bays and converted ships like Argus from having to be on hurricane or humanitarian relief watch for large portions of the year.

        • Totally agree but only if they could somehow be manned outside the present pool of staff as stripping the pool of health professionals that are available to staff the role3 MTFs is an issue. Exemption from mobilisation could hit deployment of long term role3 MFTs if we overused a hospital ship. NHS employers don’t like doing it, but the state we are in at present means to we risk impacting on role4 if we we tried to staff a hospital ship as well as our army and navy role3 commitments (especially if they became long term commitments).

          Running an already understaffed NHS ED department, while offering training to regulars at the same time as your key consultants and senior nurses are deployed in role3 MTFs leads to senior leaders in acute hospitals having to request and get exemptions and protect their services.

          In reality if you did look at something like a USNS Mercy and you found the staffing budget you would need to find around 2000 full time medical and nursing professional posts extra a year, I have no idea where they would come from as it takes 4 years to train a basic ED or ward nurse, 7-10 for a more senior nurse or staff grade dr even just ensuring access to trauma life support trianing for present staff is a challenge. Just running the NHS services we have and supporting the armed forces medical establishment as is stretching the workforce to breaking point, adding a hospital ship is not an option without losing something. Unfortunately it’s always a question of manpower over anything else.

  10. Once Hms ocean left we lost the mass commando helicopter lift. Apart from using our carriers obviously. But I didn’t see this coming, they will no doubt be RFA a replace argus and ocean. But why sell ocean then? Was it because she was worn out and only fit for a second tier navy? I’m surprised they opted for two ships though. A nice capability that we needed for the commando helicopter force. I can’t wait to hear more about the details, size, compliment ect ect.

  11. The Sun have an article on this also.

    Great news, assume they will not be as large as the US vessels but great news all he same. Hopefully new build as if these are littoral you’d expect survivability not offered from a commercial conversion. Assuming they follow the principles set out in the Nation Ship Building Strategy and we’ll see a competitive UK based tender to meet a fixed price with a minimum spec like the T31.

    • Agree that there should be a competitive tender between UK yards as per the type 31. Wonder if they could be built at Appledore, maybe it’s too small a yard.

      • Too big for Appledore unless its a block build and Appledore pick up some of the blocks. Cammell Liard or H & W would be my preferred yards. I’d also be OK with foreign design, I don’t think its a design area the UK needs to have expertise, better to focus design funds in other areas. Keep the cost down focused on delivering the build.

    • I’m not so sure, from the sounds of it these aren’t meant to be actual fighting platforms, more like support ships. Survivability isn’t likely to be a high priority.

      My biggest concern though, is funding. I was under the assumption that T31 was being built as a class of 5+, with any additional funding found being used to build extra hulls. The LSS certainly seems like a nice to have, but imo returning mass to the fleet and protecting existing capability is more important than shiny new toys

  12. Where the F*** did that come from! Got to admit I am pretty shocked. Very interested to see how this develops. Let the speculation begin!

  13. The image does look a bit like various concepts for cheap helicopter carriers. Not complaining though. I think it is a great idea.

  14. I was working on the Puller not long ago. God it is ugly!
    However it does a job.
    A huge flight deck and Aviation support facilities and under the deck is room for LC and Hovercraft/LCAC or other goodies that SF like to play with in and below the water.
    Looking at the RN supplied picture that is a modified Point Class Ro/Ro. So instead of leasing them it looks like an outright buy and convert job. Cover the vehicle deck to make a flightdeck and still retain all the storage inside.

  15. Sorry, what??!! An increase in ship numbers, a new class of ship???!! Wow! What will TH say to that? The idea the Uk purchase anything other than unarmed coastal patrol cutters will infuriate him 🤪😂🤣. My only question is where do helicopter airframes come from to load these out? Am I too wishful to think we might get some extra soon?

    • We should build the Type 45 replacement on the Type 26 hull and speed up the glacial build rate.

      We should aim to increase the size of the Royal Navy to 8 anti air Type 26 (type 45 replacement), 8 anti submarine Type 26, 8 Type 31s, another Astute for a total of 8 attack submarines and a couple more River class O.P.V.s.

      • And B.A.E.S. should be encouraged to build the new frigate factory on the Clyde with the steady stream of work (16 Type 26, 8 x anti air and 8 x anti sub).

  16. From other articles it sounded more like a conversion of a tanker than a new build.
    Either way an innovative addition to our amphibious forces.
    The RN just has to come up with escorts for them….

    • If they are forward deployed on SF missions would they be escorted? Not necessarily.

      In wartime yes.

      To me this is welcome news. Too often MOD cut the enablers as well as the fighty end. These enable SF to operate off terrorist shores, example Somalia, enabling our Bays, QEC and others to do other jobs.

  17. They do look a lot like Korean Tankers. I suspect that is where they are coming from.
    New Zealand has a Korean tanker with an ice hardened hull. I would want that on these, if the RN is to aid the Baltic NATO states in Winter.
    I would prefer them built in a UK yard, but not holding my breath.

  18. Let’s not all get carried away here.

    All I’ve found Is a Comment saying that the MOD are Looking Into possible options and that Funding has already been Allocated. Nothing else at all concrete.
    Nowhere does it state New Builds or Conversions specifically, nor are there any Facts or Figures.

    Time Will Tell.

    • The thing these days is small, well trained professional forces, being able to power project as required, with the logistics, bases, and intelligence capabilities to back them up. Rather than sheer numbers, which indeed remains important, and which have as we know reduced far to much.

      UKSF at the tip of that, and always in demand from the US and used by HMG.

      In my opinion this is a done deal and will happen. And they can be used for humanitarian too, another tick in the box.

  19. Hello Everyone

    Good News , Long over due as well

    The US version USNS Lewis B. Puller has a displacment Approx. 78,000 long tons (87,000 short tons) fully loaded

    Obviously we are not getting anything that big, same size as QE and POW!! haha

    HMS OCEAN was 21,500 t

    So are we looking at something similar in size to HMS OCEAN or a little bigger?
    Anything smaller for helicopters, drones and UKSF plus crew and storage might be pointless
    Defensive armaments…

    Its going to be interesting to see what designs etc come out

  20. I was actually being sarcastic when I suggested ‘Ocean’ as a name.
    Anyway, I have just read in today’s paper that there is a 3 billion pound pensions shortfall at the MOD, which the Treasury will not cover. So it would seem that the 1 billion pounds granted to the MOD earlier will go on this. That still leaves 2 billion pounds to be found from elsewhere. So the question is, where’s the money coming from?

  21. It’s an interesting idea but presents a few questions.

    Where does the money come from? A few have suggested foreign aid but at a political level there’s been no serious suggestion that would happen. Plus raiding foreign aid isn’t a zero sum game, yes undoubtedly some is wasted but some of it helps prevent conflict in areas that might otherwise destabilise, so you can’t just redirect it all or any one part of it necessarily with no consequence. In the long term redirecting the wrong funds could cost more than it saves. But, if not foreign aid then where?

    Where do the escorts come from? We barely have enough to cover one carrier battle group from our own fleet. Could we really deploy a CBG plus forward deploy 2 FLSS and protect both. Doubtless we’d integrate allied ships but that’s hardly the sovereign capacity that Williamson’s alluding too.

    Most crucially, how are they crewed. From what I understand we’re short of crew of for deploying current assets, so additional vessels would need additional crew to be trained and retained, further increasing cost, which circles back to the first question.

    There’s much I like and dislike about Williamson, on one hand he’s a strong proponent of defence, and whilst I’d love to live in a world where cooperation not conflict was the norm, we can’t get there by simply abandoning our defences. On the other he seems prone to provocative language that I don’t think is helpful in a Secretary of State. Our defences should speak for themselves, leaving us free to foster cooperation between nations.

    • As floating bases forward deployed and I guess not in use for much of the time, and resident at Diego Garcia, Gib, or wherever, what permanent crew would they need?

      A big tanker has a crew of 30 odd does it not?

      SD Victoria operates world wide with HSIC and SDV on it, that I don’t think has many crew.

  22. We are actually buying something? Surely not! I thought it was a joke but then i saw it wasn’t April the first. This buy was quite unexpected but hopefully good news as long as there are no hidden surprises e.g scrapping the rest of the surface fleet. (nothing would surprise me)

  23. Conversions of the 2 Point Class Ro-Ro ferries we let go? Anyway, looks like a thought through replacement for Ocean which avoids sending QE class inshore. Forward based assault troops and Chinooks to be the norm?

    • Looks useful Paul.

      I’m optimistic at these. Seems like someone somewhere had a plan.

      Didn’t the DS get quoted months back concerning converting ferries. It may have been these.

        • Lol I know what your referring to. That Tit Grayling and his Ferry contract.

          No this was earlier, some time last year when the amphibious capability was rumoured to be on the chopping block. The DS was quoted as suggesting that converted ferries could be used as troop ships.

        • In all fairness, I think you will find that the Company was 60% owned by one of the Biggest Shipping Companies somewhere, can’t remember the details but It’s out there somewhere.

      • Maybe, I don’t recall. Makes more sense to create these purpose designed ships than try to modify QE class to replace Ocean. I think ‘the plan’ is still work in progress, but these ships look like thought through improvements on eithef sending exoensive QE class inshore or building a straight Ocean replacement. If they are based on a RoRo design they might be able to perform the mother ship role done by fhe Bay in the Gulf. So maybe think of them as replacing the Bay we should not have sold and Ocean? As ‘Littoral Strike’ ships they will be cheaper to operate than sending Albion and Bulwark.

        • May be correct, possible the ACA have quoted silly numbers to modify the carriers for this role so cheaper to convert a commercial vessel.

  24. When a Subject like this gets so many Replies, It’s really hard to work out Who Is Replying to Who and at which point in the Conversation. It’s not exactly a free flowing, easy to keep up with format, that’s for sure.

    Is anyone else on any other Site that I can have a look at ???

    (Not saying I don’t enjoy It here but, It Is a tad confusing at times).

    • Gabriel’s Blog at UK Armed Forces Commentary is brilliant, and I find myself constantly agreeing with his thinking.

      He posts a new article every few months however, as I guess he actually has a life! Accordingly the comment section is not on going like here.

      • I think they are alluding to something like U.S. Special Operations Command’s MV C Ocean Trader. This is a conversion of a sister class to the Points. Google them.

        We need something like the San Antonio, a class of three. One of these will follow the carrier. We have close combat company, a small TAC HQ, and a clutch of Junglies in the carrier. And the balance in the dock ship with support elements and other stores in a bay stooging behind. Deploying the carrier beomes the main ‘overseas’ activity (in peace) for the RN and the RAF.

  25. Well, It looks like MP’s are trying to stop HS2, so I guess That’ll free up 20 Trillion ££££’s or thereabouts !

  26. My guess for some of the things discussed here is as follows:

    1) new build or conversion? My money would be on a conversion of another ship. Much cheaper and as it’s basically a floating base for SF, doesn’t need as much as traditional RN surface ships like frigates and destroyers.

    2) crew? As this is an SF floating base my assumption would be an RN crew, due to the nature of the missions of would undertake. Secrecy would be paramount. I’d assume that few apart from the captain and some key staff would know what the SF are actually doing, but some may hazard a guess. Possibly RFA ships crew but I don’t think so. Do RFA gave to sign the official secrets act?

    In terms of where the crew will come from? I’d assume that it would take at least a year or more to build/convert even the first of the two ships. Probably 2-3 years. Enough time to recruit more personnel to crew the ships.

    3) In terms of armament, I think self defence weaponry and that’s about it; no offensive armament as their goal is purely the delivery of SF. They will have helicopters so perhaps drones in time, too.

    I find this development quite exciting. As has been said, it helps us project power at a relatively low cost.

    • This is my view too Steve R.

      As for RFA and OSA. Do Serco Denholm people have to sign the OSA? I guess so? As when there are SBS aboard training with their kit in far away places they will have some knowledge.

    • A far more capable version of SD Victoria, which has just the one mission bay for boats and no aviation facilities.

        • Steve, exactly the point I was about to make. We couldn’t run Largs Bay and presently struggle with manning the remainder of the RFA. I am delighted with the news, however not going to hold breath until I see what exactly we are going to get.

          • I am not opposed to ‘civilian ships’ being re-purposed. It actually has been a passing interest of mine since 82.

            And I think our main maritime threat in the next three to four decades won’t be China but us policing the North African coast to protect Europe. We will need lots of hulls for helicopter, UAVs, and small boat motherships; we don’t need full on warships for that job. Saying that I am concerned about non-state actors using AShM……..

  27. I did a bit of work on that one as well.
    It was Civvy manned .
    You couldn’t get access to the SF areas which was understandable. Those areas where all cypher locked compartments and spaces.
    Big floor area under the flight deck though for all sorts of goodies. The flight deck is big (not Puller sized) with a hanger . They had been operating Little Birds, Pave Hawks and drones from it .

    • The Points have impressive endurance. Something like 9000 miles at 21kts………

      I don’t know. They seem a good answer to a different question. A question that is different to what we are asking…..

  28. Let’s hope that means an increase in surface escorts – T26 & T45. A couple of extra SSN’s to provide asw support is too much to hope for, I suppose.

  29. And in the real world the select committee reports that the MoD has still not sorted the huge gap between its budget on the one hand and its future equipment plan on the other. Until that issue is resolved, this is just political puff…..

  30. Hang on a minute, now I’ve calmed down I smell a rat. Once these are active, could we expect to see the issue of the Albion’s raised again and see them decommissioned. Could these be seen as cheaper basic LPD’s if push came to shove? How is it one minute we are looking at loosing much of our amphibious capability, then a few months down the line we are increasing it? If we had these, it would soften the blow if we lost the LPD’s and could be politically palatable. Hope to be wrong….

    • Having given it some thought we seem to be following the US down the route of there is ‘army’ (ground elements whether RM or Army), air force (whether FAA or RAF or AAC), ships (including submarines), our strategic forces (the nukes), and finally, and this is the pertinent one ‘special forces’. And these ‘strike’ ships are too support ‘special forces’. It could be argued that the main role for our infantry (be it brown, green, or even blue lidded) is to generate a special forces capability. If you get 25,000 ish keen young healthy ‘men’ then there is bound to be a small percentage who not only like soldering but are really good at and so gravitate towards special forces.

  31. Well that’s a bit left field, it’s not so much the ships, it’s what goes on around them:

    1) form part of two littoral strike groups including escorts, support ships and aviation.
    2) one strike group to be based In the indo pacific
    3) can come together with our carriers and amphibious forces, suggesting these groups are separate….

    Forgive me for being cynical, but WTF has the minister of state been drinking cus I want some.

    So to go with these ships we are going to need to deploy a whole strike group permanently in the Pacific and one in the Med/Atlantic. For the Pacific that’s a whole new base, at least a couple permanent rotor deployments, RM deployment and force protection assets, escorts etc.

    My question is around funding and manpower

    1) have they decided to dispand at least half the regiments in the army and turn them all into matelots.
    2) Are the US bunging us a sneaky under the table one for supporting them in the Pacific
    3) are we going to leave Europe to it (see number 1)
    4) is it infact a load of bull and they will order these ships then scrap the amphips and have one in deep refit/inactive at all times.

    Answers on a postcard please…

    • Unless a “Strike Group” is in reality a forward deployed single T31 or River B2, the LSS, and 3 Helicopters deployed to the ship as needed for an operation, not permanently.

      The DS said “East of Suez, Indo Pacific” To me that means Diego Garcia or the new facility in Oman, not new bases. Our SF are not needed to operate against China or elsewhere in the Pacific, but do indeed operate in the Middle East and Horn of Africa.

      1) What if they need just 30 or so people on board when in austere operation? That is most of the time if not needed and moored up somewhere. Is that such a drain?

      2) If these are primarily for UKSF then in effect we are already supporting the US with the ongoing “War on Terror” in the Middle East and Africa, so no new bung from the US.

      3) Nope.

      4) Might well be politicians making political spin but David Cameron made much of “Strike Brigades” in 2015, and they are coming.
      I believe the DS that the intention is indeed to have these two vessels deployed forward much the way HMS Montrose is.
      There have been calls for other assets to be deployed this way, such as the T31 or River B2 in the Caribbean, Gulf, Indian Ocean, and other places to save one of our few 1st line vessels for other tasks.

      And if that means the end of the LPD then it is goodbye to the RM as a Commando Group of 600 plus men of 3 Commando Brigade will not be fitting inside one of these I feel, nor have the Landing Craft.

      Check out the link that Steve Taylor above provided, and do a goggle for “SD Victoria” which the MoD currently use.

      I suggest a 5) That this is indeed one of the openers of the MDP when things do indeed see considerable change. Maybe there will be the increased emphasis on RN, RAF ops at the expense of Land Power that some of us propose.

      Sadly if something is cut RFA wise I can see the Waves going. The MoD will spin it saying we have the 4 Tides. That they replace 5 Rovers, 4 Leafs, and before them Ol Class is long forgotten. There are your crew.

          • It’s a question of back up and support. The US used their tricked out ‘ferries’ sitting on top of a much deeper support network. No not in every instance, but you need flexibility, you need to think about what if things go south. The Americans can afford to fill niches, and subtlety these niches appear because of that breadth of capability. I didn’t explain that well……Um. The US might have a good reason to say deploy a space plane because of other things, but because we don’t have those other things we don’t need a space plane but only visible part of the requirement is the plane. And the platform isn’t the capability but a facet of it. Rather like how the fruiting body of the fungus is what we see but the fungus itself is much larger but hidden. That wasn’t better either…… 🙂

  32. Is it me or is 2 the magic number here. Could this just be rehashing old news and effectively talking about the 2 solid storage vessels that are being ordered. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume they could be used for this role, if they were appropriately made taking into account multirole missions. Just the problem of the vessel needing to do 2 jobs at once and not being able to be in two places at once.

  33. OK, I’ve been reading some other reports about these vessels. It is not only two Littoral strike ships but also there escorts.
    I am starting to get an idea on what these ships are meant to be, a modern HMS Maidstone, HMS Menestheus and HMS Triumph a combination of all three. In other words a depot ship, an amenities ship and the deck/hanger/ maintenance areas for helicopters. With the extra facilities for special operations/ a company of RMs and a 100 bed medical facility. They can be used easily for emergency response.
    It would improve the moral of the small ships crews when on long term overseas deployment, improve operational maintenance, give a local surgical strike capability and regional medical capabilities. It would be useful if these ships would have an advanced command and control centre for Drones/UAVs control.
    If this is the case then they would be something that not even the US navy has.
    Its only a guess from what some of the media is reporting. If it is the case then they would be RFA vessels with self defence capabilities.

    • In other words a slightly up specced version of the solid state ships but as they would be naval ships it would give the government a chance to backtrack on the foreign build without admitting it.

  34. I hope these are where the chinooks are for, add some goodies such as barracudas and thunderchilds from safehaven marine things could get really interesting. It would be nice to have some sort of long range missiles so those inserted have some backup if in contact although I guess maybe UAV role? Do we have a long range vertical takeoff option?
    Without support I am guessing they’d only function in benign environments unless part of a taskforce. Although I am guessing t23 maybe forward based in the same areas?

  35. The two new littoral combat ships being converted from ferries , now it may just be me being suspicious but could this be an excuse by the mod to get rid of the more capable and expensive Albion class ?

  36. I thought the US SpecOp ship was ghosting around a freighter – bit like German Q Boats?

    Indeed, one poster earlier on had posted a link which stated that it had gone off the grid for 3 years!

    So would it need escorts?

  37. I would love to see us operate tiered task groups. Carriers with the 6 T45 and 6 T26 assigned purely to this purpose, the remaining 2 T26 rotated on lone deployments as required (asw tasks etc). Amphibious task group formed with Albion, a Mounts and a couple of T31 for protection. Then we have the Littorial strike ships each forward deployed with a T31 and the remaining Mounts. River B2’s and remaining T31’s (could do with a couple of extra) for patrol and mine sweeping. If we could just get Bulwark manned and active again, and get a few extras T31 for a second amphibious task group, all of a sudden we have quite a serious Navy matched by almost none in terms of power projection. If this could be achieved by the end of this spending period, we could then look at building on sub numbers and firepower on each of the platforms in the next equipment budget.

  38. I’d rather we had a couple of light LPHs or some more LPDs. We’re not yet in an emergency wartime crash program, so we should design proper military spec vessels that can defend themselves. At least this is thinking towards the upkeep & future of the RM rather than threatening more cuts to our defence capabilities.

  39. If you look at the funnel in the pic of the US ship you will see the coloured bands around the funnel
    That mean Military Sealift Command
    And they are manned by civvies The same as our RFAs
    So that should be a clue i think

  40. Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, these ships will not be additions, they will replace something, either the LPDs or Bays. It is a classic shinny news to make us feel good, which judging by the comments is successful. Manpower will be the problem, especially with POW coming on line, both QE and POW will operate together for at least the next five years.

    • Sadly, tend to agree. I see the LPDs going to Brazil. They are expensive to run. The campaigns to save them have probably only bought a temporary reprieve. The geopolitical trend still suggests more agile, smaller, special force interventions and helicopter assault?

        • The one thing that has hobbled the RN’s amphibious capability for a long time is too scale everything around moving MBT. The last time we had to move anything that big by sea was when we deployed AVRE’s into that most exotic and far flung of places, Londonderry…….

          I would scrub the LCU’s and go for simpler and smaller and faster craft like the LCM1E. I am greatly enamoured with the French L-CAT’s.

          The RM is already very light and it already doesn’t have enough ship to shore connectors.

          Going even lighter won’t do us any favours.

          And then talk about fighting the Chinese………..

    • Don’t convert the QE to support amphibious landings, not sure the budget for this but I wouldn’t expect its peanuts.

      This next one will be unpopular but if there are considerable savings building the FSSS overseas then do it, its all very well quoting recycled tax revenue but you don’t get that back for years and the figures are debatable. There could be enough savings for a single FLSS. In the end 2 FLSS would be built in the UK anyway.

      Lastly Penny Ms idea to use the foreign aid budget with savings from the above may only need a fraction of a %.

  41. Not unlike RFA Reliant, but on a larger scale with an added surface offload capacity. Hopefully lessons will have been learned from the leaky Arapaho system that was a great concept but needed more finesse.

  42. It’ll end up being something with the carrying capacity of an old wolwich ferry but not as fast and without the means to act autonomously – if at all. Old Gavin is growing his reputation and his referred to as the MoB

  43. I feel the money for this will be new money; whether these are new builds or modified civvy ships, built in the UK, or elsewhere, they won’t cost all that much. They’re a floating base for special forces so they don’t need all bells and whistles. My guess would be no more than a dozen or so SAS/SBS and a company of royal marines or Paras as support.

    I’m not worried about the ships; it’s where the helis to fly off them will come from.

    They’d need at least 4. 2 Chinooks and 2 smaller helis. Would these be from existing stock or new equipment? Likely the former.

    • We already have the helicopters.

      Whether 7 Squadrons Chinooks operate from a desert strip in Jordan, a car park in Baghdad, or these vessels, it makes no difference.

      They can be detached as required.

      A permanent attachment however is different.

      I also wonder if the new build Chinooks play a part in this.

      As for smaller Helicopters, JSFAW lost its light helicopter squadron when the Lynx of 657 AAC were disbanded, without obvious replacement.

      Prior to this 4 of the army order of 34 Wildcat were to be SF types. That died a death with no explanation.

      So maybe some more replacements will surface.

      Like the beloved Ospreys!! Highly unlikely!

  44. I’m a big fan of this idea; it adds to our global reach and power projection for a relatively small cost. The trend in recent years has been to have billion-pound top of the range kit that we can’t afford in decent numbers ala Type 45s, so we see a reduction in not only numbers but capability.

    I think Gavin has realised that, sadly, defence won’t be getting an increase to 3% that it really needs and as such is being forced to get creative with how to deliver credible defence at reduced cost. This is one of the ways.

    I think the proposed drone swarm is another of those ways; if said drones are much cheaper ala Predators or even smaller, and have either their own weapons or if cheap enough, to kamikaze into enemy targets, then idea force multiplier for little cost.

    I think we’ve always been good at doing more with less; while it’s not ideal, we should strive for it if we have to.

  45. Some renderings show that these ships could be similar to the Point ships of which most were built in Germany and only two in Belfast. But these ships along with the Hospital ship and 3 FSSS would be the actual spur and catalyst for proper shipbuilding in the UK and the UK Shipbuilding Strategy, rather than 5 general purpose frigates. It will also give a good pointer to how much cheaper we are than Germany and other western shipbuilders s these type of ships do not have the usual 6-7% above inflation price as other warships like Frigates and Destroyers. Plus these ships are not commercial and will be employed in operations that say to me, they are not commercial ships.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here