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Nice article 🙂 BMT have submitted some good designs in recent years and Damen have been around a while so it’s a good sign.


Thank you for the article but I think we all know where this is leading.

The Ministry of Managed Decline will never order 6. They will argue that the modern design offers superior capabilty, so a like-for-like replacement is not required, therefore 5 becomes the working number. Then at the next ‘review’ some bright civil servant suggests a reduced headcount in Royal Marines would mean fewer MRSS are needed, so the future order is reduced to 4, and the RM headcount slashed. The Netherlands will then withdraw, unhappy with the design, and a further ‘review’ concludes the current project is no longer affordable and is further reduced to 3.

These reviews span 2 elections, 10 years and expensive extensions of OSDs, so the treasury clawback funds meaning the budget can now only afford 2+1 future option. The unions insist that they are built entirely in the UK, so the ministry of managed decline immediately bin any +1 future option…

Its now 2035, the RN is struggling to recruit in the brave new world, though the two ships are finally built despite long delays and being over budget The builder remains in dispute with who pays for unexpected costs incurred mid-way through completion but they are both finally launched amid great fanfare in the now newly indepedent Scotland.

However, crews are unavaible for both, so 1 is mothballed immediately, while the other is sent on exercise off the US coast, but suffers engine issues and returns to port for a lengthy investigation …

Holland’s 3 ships look very nice though…

Oliver Grundy

I really really hope not – the would be a massive blow to the RN and RM, but could see them downsizing to 5 and cutting the need to make a replacement for Albion, but I’m hoping NSBS will hold the larger build order together – and if so we should end up with 6 very capable amphibious ships together with the Netherlands. Would be even better if we got the Italians and their 3 new LxD’s involved, but they might be a bit too far along with their program to want to go back to stage one with us and the Netherlands

David MacDonald

I do hope that you are wrong but I fear you might turn out to be correct.

As an aside these ships and carriers too, require escorts (I mean proper escorts, not the T31 gunboats) so a balanced fleet would also require additional T26s and a reasonable number (at least 8) of T83s. This is not going to happen without a drastic increase in defence spending and a recruiting programme which targets those who might, with encouragement, want to join up. I walked past the Chelmsford tri-service recruiting office a few weeks ago. Every single photograph in the window was of either a lady or an ethnic minority. The photographs were fine, in themselves, but the lack of a single young white serviceman was sending a message was that such recruits are not wanted.

Oliver Grundy

Hopefully (and i think the expectation is) for the amphibious ships, the other members of the JEF, who lack the capital ships we have will provide the majority of the escorts for the ships – (there are 10 nations in it after all) – while we can concentrate out ships on carrier strike, North Sea ASW and other commitments of ours.


80% of teens and young people in the UK are white and I doubt more than 15% of recruits are female. So this risks alienating over 60% of the potential recruits. Maybe you need to pop in next time you walk past and remind them that even indirect discrimination on grounds of race and sex is illegal.


Hi Jon
Tell that to the RAF…????


you just be fighting for the elites to take a countries resources,America and British are good at causing war


David so true…. And the Chelmsford office is so unappealing to the internet generation….. needs a good clean ????


Did you also tell that to the UK Prime Minister and London Mayor, they do not look white?


Why are we propossing buying these?
How does it help defend the ????????



The Whale Island Zookeeper

Now the government has upset Russia we have to look to helping defend northern Norway. And now Finland is in NATO and Sweden hovering at the door defending that part of the world has become even more difficult.


Sorry, that’s bollocks. It was crystal clear to anyone who cared to look what that nice Mr Putin and by extension Russia were up to from around 2004 onwards. It’s just that no-one wanted to admit it and face the force structure and financial consequences. To suggest that we have somehow provoked the bear is dissembling of the worst type.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Do one yourself. Don’t bring you rabid Russophobia here from that galactic centre of the utter stupid ARRSE. The UK hasn’t the resources to pick fights with much larger states. That the government doesn’t realise this is extremely concerning. I am not going to swear here. You need to give your head a wobble.

newer X

So my post was deleted but that is okay?
What’s wrong with that Homepage? I decided not to comment here in 2022 after you were unable to speak out against Putin’s trolls like “X” in the comments. But now it’s even worse here?


He’s still hurt at his mis guided remarks ref Putin invading Ukraine and seemingly lack of expertise in “IR”. Same with all the millions of other clueless posts to be honest……. I bet he goes crying to NL and gets me banned again !


How did the government “upset Russia”?
Perhaps you think we should have stood by and let Russian agents assassinate their way across the U.K. using radioactive Polonia and nerve-agent Novichok to murder their targets and unsuspecting British citizens? Perhaps you think we should stand by and let Russian forces invade peaceful democracies and commit atrocious war crimes against civilians?

Defending the far North has become far easier now that Finland has joined, and Sweden is about to join, NATO.

Your moral compass clearly points towards the Kremlin, if you have one at all.


I rather thought that it was the other way around, that by invading Ukraine, and murdering people on the streets of the UK, Russia has upset us.




I admire your somewhat justified cynicism.

However IIRC the MRRS concept itself was based on the premise of having a larger number of much cheaper ships, the logic behind this being that it avoids putting too many eggs in one basket. This is more T31 thinking than T45/T26

Don’t forget also that it’s the sustainment costs (and very large crews) of the Albions that has been the main challenge for the amphib fleet, while the Bays have been busy and never stuck in port.

Both of the very similar Enforcer and Elida concepts are essentially scaled up Bays, so they should fit the ticket nicely for a larger number of hulls without blowing the budget, on both purchase and sustainment.


6 really is not realistic at all. Hopefully sanity will prevail and 4 will be the firm number.

Replacing OPV’s with an LPD could well be the most ridiculous idea ever. That could well bring stupidity into the RNLN design demands, and ultimately be the weak point?

Whatever happens, both governments better get a move on as the lethargic FSS fiasco is still fresh in memories.


I kind of assumed that the Dutch might have been considering the Damen Crossover design when they were talking about replacing their OPVs but that design if far smaller than the other classes?


They will maybe build 4 but sell one to Australia as ARS Chools will be needing replacement by then. It will be fitted for but not with defensive armament; just bolt ons.


Do you mean HMAS Choules?


They have a requirement called Sea 2200 for 2
The Ellida concept could be their direction


Decent, flexible design.


It does seem odd that the RNLN is looking at these designs as replacements for OPVs. However given they redesignated their Absalons from support ships to being frigates it seems to fit into a philosophy that sees future warships as multirole support vessels with whose firepower can be enhanced quickly when required, rather than vessels designed purely for combat alone.


The Dutch navy does not have Absolon frigates! They belong to the Danish Navy! The Dutch OPVs must be replaced by ASWF frigates and not by MRSS ships. The LPDs must be replaced by much more capable vessels.


Absalons were Danish not Dutch. they were designed as frigates but with a multi role capability/rear ramp and loading deck – because of Faroes and Greenland, plus Bornholm

Volume and surface search radars , sonars, ESSM , Harpoon were there from beginning


Maybe for Dutch commitments in the Caribbean and the East Indies, a small LPD could do the job better than a specialist blue-water OPV. As well as constabulary tasks, the Hollands do small force insertion, SAR, HADR, etc, and an LPD would significantly improve on those capabilities, without necessarily detracting from the constabulary tasking or the OPVs’ role as a sensor hub. Although I’m a big fan of the B2 Rivers, I imagine that HMS Medway’s Caribbean job might also be better served by an LPD with a helicopter.


We (the Dutch) haven’t had commitments in what used to be called the East Indies for a very long time and the RNLN doesn’t venture there often anymore. The last time a Dutch warship ventured to the Far East was when HNLMS Evertsen took part in CSG 21, and that was for the first time in many years. You are right on what the Hollands do in the Caribbean (the role of WIGS largely falls to them), and I agree that an LPD design as their successors would be an improvement, especially for disaster relief operations.


Interesting, thank you. According to Wikipedia the Holland class was specced to go to the Far East (South China Seas) among other places. Times change or — horror — the Wiki was wrong. Dutch marines still work with ours though, right, and expect to be part of the LRGS from the Indian Ocean?


There are six currently, two of which are actual warships….


A crucial program that needs to deliver like for like numbers and on time! Makes a lot of sense to partner up with a long-term and reliable ally like the Dutch…..providing as the article states that we can agree on the basic requirements before moving forwards to keep the costs down through commonality and economies of scale. Kinda odd that they want to replace their OPV’s with what should be a 10,000+ ton vessel though!

The focus should be on littoral raiding given large-scale ‘over the beach’ ops are beyond our resources and fraught with risks. Don’t completely abandon but scale back vehicle and troop capacity for emphasis on better aviation facilities, fast raiding craft and firepower.

Getting 6 of one homogenous class could bring real benefits in terms of availability, maintenance, crewing etc and I could see 1 being forward based East of Suez in the LSS role, 1 focused on Northern Europe and a couple being the centre of a deployable amphibious task-group.


Deploying East of Suez!!!
For goodness sake get real..


Remember Global Britain —

Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, describes the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action we will take to 2025


There has been a Bay class “East of Suez” for many years.

Bloke down the pub

If the Royal Marines operated amphibious vehicles with better sea-keeping properties, something akin to the USMC ACV, then some of the space for the well deck could be sacrificed for vehicle lanes without reducing across the beach capability.


They have already started a lot of work with regards to maintenance and upkeep to allow the Bays to be extended. They are in a very very good state of repair so some tweaks to the painting and preservation works should easily see them through any extensions.


That’s good as I suspect the delays that the FSS is at risk of suffering due to having to restart a shipyard mean that the MRSS is likely to run 5+ years late


The biggest risk to MRSS is the inability to express a coherent requirement.


Wasnt that always the case as the RCNC knew. Provide a preliminary design that fits closely the staff requirements , who would immediately say ‘thats not what we wanted’.
If time and UK build are the priorities , than the T31 approach is best , Take *existing* design thats already aligned put in minor mods and formulate a ship building plan from that


Yes. There will always be compromises for a multi-role ship even more so than a frigate, especially when the roles are this diverse. Which compromises should be taken will be hotly debated no matter what is selected, so let suppliers pitch designs they know they can deliver.

Perhaps the other lesson from the Type 31 is to be firm on price and through-life costing, with the availability of optional upgrades over the base model. If a supplier wants to pitch ten 8,000 ton ships as opposed to six 15,000 ton ships at the same price, why not let them? It’s the cost/capability of the MROSS fleet that needs be judged.


You are conflating detailed requirement definition with the more fundamental ones of what the ship (and more importantly force) is actually for.


fundamentals have been done as the story says
‘The UK and Netherlands have formally announced they will explore opportunities to work together to purchase a new generation of amphibious warships’
DES has more specifics
MRSS will be equipped with a sea to land strike capability, designed to operate in amphibious task groups – known as Littoral Response Groups – helping highly-trained Marines to deploy to crises globally, fully equipped with their vehicles, boats, aircraft, and weaponry.”

What the force is for‘ – its done and dusted and they can look to existing capabilities to see if its carried over or new ones added or deleted. The numbers of vessels also come to the fore. Unfortunately the trend is bigger and bigger ‘as a saving’ when its usually less.


None of which tallies with the Conops for Future Commando Force. So it’s far from done and dusted.


Doesnt the RN call it MarOpC and its a hopeless tangle of buzz words and management speak
‘The MarOpC is an audience-centric concept which describes the Maritime Force response to the demand set by ISDR 21 and IOpC. Alongside the RN Strategy, it describes the Wise Pivot of the Maritime Force, from a platform-based, role-specific, and aggregated Fleet, to a distributed protean force, operating as a system of systems.”

Thats from 2022. What you say makes sense but I seem to remember the USN calls it ConOps and theirs is all waffle too. Way above my level of understanding

The Whale Island Zookeeper

THIS ^^^^^^^^^^

Andrew Deacon

The article doesn’t address whether these will be RN or RFA crewed. Neither are rolling in personnel at the moment. HMS Albion+Bulwark have a much heftier RN+RM crew than the 4 RFA, which raises the prospect of a variable size crew depending on tasking and if there are significant differences between the vessels.




Andrew, good point which I missed. I just added my thoughts, above, and if you’d be interested, maybe take a look? I wonder if a the lo part of a hi lo mix could be RFA manned?


I think it’s a big mistake to go for a single common platform – too many requirements for a single hull design.

I think it’s also naive to think that unless funding is significantly increased that the RN will have more than one real LRG based in the UK and even then it will be operating as part of a carrier group for anything significant. Also, seeing that lightweight amphibious ops are now the objective, given 3Cdo is not expected to operate Brigade level ops, the logistical requirements are also different with the potential for the three FSS to fill the gap here.

My view would be to get three “LPDs” which are smaller than the Albions but still have large decks for two Chinook spots and a large well docks, and a like for like replacement for Argus as an Aviation Support Ship. Whilst some people will argue for hangars on the LPDs, IMO they should be seen as optional given the limited number of available helicopters and that they are likely to be sailing with a CVF or ASS.


Buy a tugboat

The Whale Island Zookeeper

We need 3/4 fast large LPD’s roughly similar in size and capability to the USN LPD-25 San Antonio class. And 4 or so LSL’s; something like the Dutch Karl Doorman sans some features to ‘follow on’.

1) One to follow the carrier on its annual cruise: Junglies and Wildcats with a close combat company in the carrier with the balance of the commando in LPD.

2) One for training off Norway and looking forward in the Eastern Med.

3) And one / two in some level of refit.

It will never happen. LPDs are warships so need to fight. RFA’s are delivery trucks. You can’t build the former cheaply these days. You can’t build the latter up to what is need due to expense.

The Bay (Enforcers) are good ships; if issues with uptake redesign are put to one side.

The LPD’s are OK for trolling across the North Sea to Norway but as an asset for ‘fire fighting’ way too slow.

What is needed is a new fast ship to shore connector. I like the Engin de débarquement amphibie rapide (EDA-R). These new landing craft and in numbers will drive up hull size.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

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I favour a flaptop design for a new LPD…..
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USN doesnt only use Hovercraft for its LPD, LCU 1700 shown

The Whale Island Zookeeper

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The Whale Island Zookeeper

Why? It is a question I have often asked myself. And asked myself here a lot.

Playing fantasy fleets is fun. But if you had read my post you would have seen what I propose it will never happen.


You are here a lot, I’ll grant you that…..


A flattop design maximises your aviation handling and turn around times. As the landing spots are in a linear line along the length of the port side of the ship. With a Albion/Bay type of ship with a forward superstructure, the landing spots are either staggered or behind each other in a pair. This means taking off and landing needs more coordination, especially when a Chinook is involved. Whereas operating a Chinook from a flattop is a lot safer, as it approaches down the port side, slides over a vacant slot and lands. This makes taking off and landing more predictable, especially for lighter helicopters and also safer as the wind-sheer from the down-wash is also more predictable.

Lee H

Guys – before we going running off building large 24,000 tonne platforms lets look at something that is more sustainable and more suited to the model being designed by the Royal Marines. The days of the LCU/LCVP should be behind us now:


Not entirely sure they’ve thought this one through yet. There’s a glaring disconnect between the Future Commando Force as described, the theoretical UK/NL amphibious capability and the need to have surface lift / landing craft / vehicles.

FCF is all about small groups raiding from a significant distance offshore. That largely precludes use of surface craft simply because at the sort of distances we’re talking about, you’d arrive after several hours of being bounced about in a small enclosed volume. There are some snake-oil salesmen around who are trying to convince Dstl otherwise, but the laws of hydrodynamics and whole-body vibration are against them.

3 Cdo brigade no longer has the manoeuvre units to provide an assault force. While the individual units remain in name, they’re actually tasked with other stuff. The Dutch are going the same way. The other point about operating as small units is that you want to keep the logistic footprint small. The last thing you want to do is start landing vehicles over a beach.

All this suggests to me that the days of classic LPD/LSD may be over. Unless you resurrect Fast Landing Craft (bring money, lots of money) you’re stuck to visual range of shore, which means that – according to current doctrine – you’re vulnerable. LSG isn’t a Cdo group size either, it’s much closer to a Coy group.

All of which means that there’s more thought required here. Do you actually need lots of vehicle capacity and associated landing craft? Nor can you meaningfully sustain a significant landing force at significant distance from your ships by air – so do you need that “large” capability? Questions that need a bit more discussion.

All currently obscured by a “replacement LPD” mentality. For avoidance of doubt, if you’re going to have a close inshore amphibious capability then LPD are a good thing. However, we appear to have decided that close inshore is not survivable, in which case LPD are not the answer.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Yes. It is all rhubarb. We live in age where ‘rebel groups’ can field anti-ship missiles. The idea that a troop of plucky chaps can just go ashore and doing anything of worth is frankly potty.

The USN / USMC MEU is about the minimum size of force to get anything of value done. If you can get ashore.
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To be fair I think this is what we should be looking at fielding in a slightly modified form instead of all this insane talk of ‘carrier strike’. Bring 3Cdo back to full strength. Send the carrier out on a cruise once a year. And bring the Dutch and Germans with us.


Which planet do you all live on?
What a weird load of ex naval officers on this board

The Whale Island Zookeeper

We already have everything we need to send one carrier with one LPD and some escorts off on a jaunt with helicopters and a clutch of F35b once a year.


I think you are right that OTH insertion via helicopter or small groups via fast boats (see recent RFI from industry) is the only answer. You can operate small groups from minor warships or frigates, but as soon as it gets to company level you need bigger ships and large numbers of helicopters, that’s why I think for the RN there is no way to get away from using the 2 CVFs and to degree the ASS.

Whilst I think in its traditional role the LPD is dead, I do see the need for a ship that can easily carry RMs, a large deck for Lilly-padding helicopter ops and a large well dock for fast craft and USVs/UUVs as part of a task group.


As a massive simplification is therefore the direction of travel resource and doctrine wise less San Carlos and more Pebble Island?

If so are we looking at less of a modern LPD and more of a formalised, less ad-hoc Littoral Strike Ship?

Something that emphasises aviation facilities, firepower, command & control, fewer but faster assault craft and longer legs to loiter out of range over your ‘standard’ amphibious configuration (vehicle lanes, big well-deck and landing craft and so on)?


Good points though the RN/RFA is also responsible for transporting the Army to overseas theatres. While I think nobody has the stomach for high-casualty mass beach assaults anymore, transporting soldiers and vehicles to friendly ports will still be required.
Which raises the future question about the Point class which are now 20 years old. That’s still fine for commercial vessels, but 10 years from now…


Almost certainly an extension for the Point class, which will take them up to 2030…


Overseas theatres?
Do you mean the Sydney Opera House?
We would struggle to afford the visit


If that’s supposed to be humour, don’t give up the day job.


Compared to military style ships the cost of replacing the Point Class is relatively small.


Thanks for good article, to start discussion.

Does the MRSS really need large well docks?

I think this articles is too much insisting on LPD/LSD “replacement”. At least from reading the FCF direction (which is still not clear I agree), I think they are putting less and less demand it. More helicopter and fast-and-stealthy small landing boats. Not surprised to see the total lane-meter be cut to a half.

A Bay level smallish well-dock may be OK. Then, “MRSS” will be of 7000-9000t level, which will enable 6 hulls to be built. Say, a bit enlarged Italian San Giorgio class?

This hull will be also “not bad” for Caribbean ocean patrol (WIGS), with good HADR capability and so-so good patrol capability.

By the way, another idea will be to built 2 large LSD/LHD, and 4 smallish (5000t class) LSD, a size of Italian San Giorgio class or even smaller. Will perfectly match for WIGS.


Agreed! The appetite and resources for full-scale amphibious assaults is pretty much gone, with Albion & Bulwark being in many ways relics of the enthusiasm for brigade level expeditionary warfare that prevailed in the 90’s.

I could imagine something in the 10-12,000 ton range, space for large company – small battalio level units embarked, a smallish well-deck for fast raiding craft, aviation facilities for 4 or 5 medium helicopters and/or UAV’s and the flexibility to carry HADR supplies or modular medical suites.

Could have 1 on WIGS, 1 East of Suez as a more effective Littoral Strike Ship, 1 available for the Northern Europe and still the capacity to deploy 1 or 2 of the others as part of the CSG or to reinforce any of the above.


What delusional crap


What a complete waste of money from a country with delusions of granduer. We cannot provide aircraft or support/defense vessels for our equally delusional carrier task force


But UK will have 48+ F35Bs and 6 T45 and 8 T23/26s. I do not know what a dream you have on “carrier task force”, but in these days, 24 F35B is a huge power, much more powerful than 50 SeaHarrier in 1990s.

Amphibious vessels are not waste of money. But to what extent is a big question I agree.


There are virtually no Marines to put on the amphibious vessels.


Really? Why not, what is the RM doing? I am not saying any brigade level assault. Just (one or) two Companies, at most. Even so, having an amphibious vessel will make it much easier.

9 units, each commanded by Lt Col, including logistics, engineers, artillery , signals


The appetite is gone until it has to be done. Al-Faw 2003 is hardly ancient history and exactly what we should be able to repeat. Any ship could do WIGS or HADR. Points with a hanger….


Not sure. At least “Points with a hanger” is not a Point anymore. Point is a RoRo vessel, very lean manned with only 18-22 souls. Adding a hanger for a single Wildcat will nearly double the crew size. Then, it is loses the merit of Points, and so it is not a Point-class anymore, becoming more Bay-like. Very different vessels, they are.


I think we should also consider what happened in the past coupe of months as part of the requirement. With the recent coups and civil wars in various African countries. A ship is required that can take a large number of UK Nationals either fleeing or requiring to get out of a failed country. The very recent predicament due to the Sudanese civil war, I believe highlights this need, with the forced evacuation of Europeans in April.

To that end the MRSS as shown above would seem to be what is required to handle these types of urgent missions, being a combination of Argosy and the Bay class.


Damen also have their “Crossover” series of designs, which would seem to be far closer to the RNLN LPX requirement. I could see 4 Crossover’s and 2 Ellida’s meeting Dutch requirements even if it is not a single hull. However what would the RN do? 3 Crossovers as HMS (far smaller crews than the LPD’s means could have 2 crews each?) and 3 Ellida’s to replace Bays as RFA? So not a single hull but common use, some built in NL, some built in UK?


Damen have been pushing that Crossover design for a while, be interesting to see if it gets picked.


The Dutch will probably choose to build in Romania and fit out in the Netherlands.


Absolutely – but it’s still a Damen design, and do they own the Romanian yard? Point being they could build their 4 Crossovers where-ever they like, and buy 2 Ellida either direct from a UK yard as part of the deal, or buy the “design” and also have them bought in Romania. Would UK have capacity to build 3 Ellida’s and 3 Crossovers? Can you imagine the clutching of pearls if we picked up 3 built in Romania, even if that was the best deal for the defence budget…?


The question still remains, what are these ships really for? Are they for landing a force on a contested coastline or one that has already been suppressed, so there’s little threat to the ship or the troops travelling towards the beach head? As the type of contested/uncontested scenario should determine what the requirements are and therefore what the overall design needs to be.

A Falklands Part 2 is always at the back of peoples minds, but then so is another Sierra Leone as well. Both two different types of amphibious operations, but had the support of a full task force, including fixed wing aviation. One with a contested landing/beach head and the other not. If we consider the role of the Multi-Role Support Ship (MRSS), it will be needed to undertake both types of scenarios. We do not and cannot afford the luxury of believing every amphibious operation will be in uncontested waters. Offensively and defensively for these large scale scenarios, it will have a task group with a carrier providing the support. However, for the Littoral Strike role, it will likely be operating on its own or with just a frigate such as a T31.

Therefore I think the RN need to consider that the ship must be able to stand on its own or at least as part of a two ship force. Which means it needs to be able to project force as well as defend itself.

If we accept that the T31 will get a decent sized Mk41 VLS farm (24 or 32 cells). Then there’s the likelihood that some of these cells will be used for some land attack missiles. Be that Tomahawk or the VLS capable JSM and possibly later the FCASW. Except these are major strategic assets (expensive) and not really suited for taking out a Hilux with a Dushka on the back.

The T31 will likely be embarked with a Wildcat, which will be able to use Martlet for soft targets such as a Technical, but it will be no good against an old T72 for example. The Ukraine War has shown how quickly the unmanned drone has become a significant asset for both reconnaissance but also for offense, especially a dual role loitering drone, such as the Lancet.

A combination of reconnaissance/loitering drones and the ship’s weapons will be needed to suppress a contested coastline. Otherwise even for another Sierra Leone, a Jungly carrying Booties or a LCU plodding towards shore becomes an easy target. Especially if the opposition has gained access to MANPADS or ATGWs.

Therefore, the MRSS to my mind should have more offensive power. Leaving the T31 to handle the majority of air, surface, possible sub-surface (if equipped with a ASW pod) and strategic threats. Leaving the MRSS to handle the tactical threat, i.e. what ever threatens the beach head.

The T31’s gun armament of the single Mk110 57mm and a pair of Bofors 40 Mk4s. Will be a common commodity logistically, therefore it would make sense for the MRSS to be similarly equipped. As this would give decent close in protection for both surface and air threats.

As much as wacking a Mk8 4.5″ or a Mk45 5″ on the bow would be ideal for softening up the beach head and surrounding area, it would be a gold platted solution. The Mk110 would be sufficient enough for local area suppression and direct fire support. Although it doesn’t have the explosive content of the 4.5″, 5″ let alone a 76mm. Its rate of fire and smaller HE content has enough to deal with light vehicles and troops in the open.

There are two weapons that should be considered for “up-arming” the MRSS, so that more hardened defences, armoured vehicles and suppression of enemy air defences are dealt with. Which are Brimstone and GMRLS (ERG). They have both shown that in a modern conflict to be undeniably better than what the opposition uses. They also hugely benefited by drone support. Therefore, the MRSS along with its own helicopter support, must be able to support drones, that can be launched and recovered by the ship.

Brimstone has already been investigated for maritime use. I’m sure a podded iso container, that contained a number of Brimstone ready-use containers that opened up for firing would be more than doable. GMRLS though, would need a launcher that can be slewed and elevated, otherwise its maximum range wont be realised. Plus there will be a need to rearm the launcher, preferable from below decks.

The drone should be relatively small and expendable, being able to stay on station for 4 hours or more. If it had enough spare weight capacity to carry a weapons payload that would be a bonus, muck like a Bayraktar TB2. But with GMRLS (ERG) having a range up to 150km, I’d say endurance and camera fidelity would be more important than carrying weapons. Plus, if the Electro-optical turret included a laser designator. It could be used by Brimstone for third party designation and also GMLRS if it has a laser seeker fitted.

By giving MRSS both an offensive and defensive punch would give the Royals better mission flexibility. Plus using both reconnaissance drones and GMLRS, will mean the ship can fire out of sight of land beyond the horizon. Also if there are any armoured vehicles in or around the beach head area, these can be dealt with by Brimstone. Not forgetting that having the same gun armament of the T31 will allow the ship to defend itself better, especially against kamikaze drones.


What planet are you on?


One with a firm bottom, why? Ah debate and discourse is a wonderful thing, perhaps we should start and examine what is doable, rather than lamenting on what is not:

  1. With limited funding available, what would be the best method of exploiting what is currently in the UK’s military inventory, that would add to improving the mission goals, i.e. to give the RN better flexibility in how to conduct a successful amphibious operation, bearing in mind we will have limited hull numbers for the foreseeable future?
  2. If MRSS is expected to go in harm’s way, should it not be better protected? By using the gun armament of a T31 as a basis for the MRSS. It would help defend the ship better than a pair of Phalanx. Plus the BAe Mk110 with both dumb and smart ammunition can also be used offensively to a limited degree. A podded ISO farm of CAMMs would also be an ideal solution, especially if the ship is getting the same radar and CMS as the T31.
  3. If the MRSS is operating as part of a very small task group, should it not be able to provide fire support assistance? Why must a supporting destroyer/frigate be necessary to provide the mission’s fire support? Will that supporting ship be able to provide the correct and appropriate type of fire support?
  4. If the ship has a pair of Jungly Merlins, these cannot provide air support, apart from localised suppressive fire by the aircraft’s crew served weapons (GPMGs). Will there be space for an additional couple of Wildcats or Apaches? Better that the ship provide air support via unmanned air systems that can be used for reconnaissance and overwatch.
  5. How much will it cost to develop a maritime capable GMRLS launcher and loading system? The mechanics of the system are no different to an old Sea Dart launcher. Instead of a missile be loaded as per Sea Dart, a cannister is loaded. MBDA have already show cased a podded Brimstone that can be mounted on to the back of a truck. How difficult would it be to marinize the pod?
  6. If the ship is crewed by the RN and is classed as a warship, then why should it not actually be a warship that is capable of fighting, rather than a glorified painted grey RORO ferry for a few Booties? If the shoreline has been pacified, then the ship can get closer to the shore. Until then it will have to remain beyond the horizon, out of sight where it is safer. But there is always the risk of a small team with an ATGW targeting the ship to shore connectors. Which is why it is crucial for the MRSS to be able to provide the necessary support to neutralise the threat, either by its own UAS or kinetically from the ship.
  7. Will we be allocating a carrier to escort the MRSS on small amphibious operations? Clearly not as it is not warranted, plus could we afford it?

Gone are the times when a ship such as a LPD can expect the company of a destroyer and a couple of frigates to provide offensive and defensive support. With the limited number of frigates and especially destroyers. I believe their needs to be a mind set change or at least an exploration of what is feasible. Where an amphibious ship such as the MRSS can be better employed. It should be able to stand on it own two feet defensively, but crucially also be used offensively to support the amphibious operation.

Will MRSS be “up-armed”, I doubt it. As the RN has become increasingly more passive over the years. But there is no harm in raising the subject, as someone at the MoD may actually read what posted on this forum!


Interesting stuff Davey.

I can’t remember the project name but isn’t there a funded and now active UK programme that involves buying some Schiebel S-100? For surveillance that’s great but for the sort of ground support you mention not so much since the 35kg or so payload capacity at 6 hour endurance isn’t enough to carry even a pair of Martlet plus the necessary targeting package. What I’m really hoping is that the RN’s rotary drone project might expand out to the Schiebel S-300 because at least on paper (has it flown yet?) that is a huge step up with a 250kg payload while maintaining a 4 hour endurance. That would seem ideal to me for the role you mention in your penultimate paragraph. It is also still a relatively small craft, at 4.8m long by 0.9m wide still transportable in a standard 20′ container.

Out of interest, is weapons integration significantly faster for drones vs crewed aircraft or does it not make much difference? On the one end of the spectrum I would suggest we have weapons integration of F-35 which, due to the complexity of the systems being integrated into (and the fact that the stuff the UK cares about is behind the US stuff in the queue), it sometimes seems like a never-ending process, and integrating stuff into something like Wildcat is by no means quick. I was just wondering if it is significantly quicker to integrate stuff onto various drones. I suppose one thing going for a drone integration is that if early attempts do mess up the aerodynamics or not clear the launch platform correctly then at least no human lives are at stake with a failed test.


The delivered outcome is 1 x RM Strike Company, and 1 x RM Support Company.
so scale ships accordingly.


Lots of good points here.

My question is…what about the next 10 yrs?

If a common class of 6 Amphibious vessels is the way forward why not test the theory on the current fleet?

Adding fixed hangers to the Bays, retaining Argus and getting the two Waves operational again provides six useful hulls to test the theory. Pay for it by mothballing both Albions.

If it works, great. If it fails then still time to take a more traditional approach to the replacement program.


Let’s invade Russia


Totally agree, Let’s also invade China, we can show them how civilized Great Britain is, Cheerio,


Been there , done that after WW1


Britain had invaded half the world, come to think of it.


Why? It’s an absolute dump.


Have you been to Iraq or Afghanistan ?. Guess what happened


What’s my holiday history got to do with Russia being a dump? Or as a pro-Putin conspiracy theorist are you upset by some home truths?

El Sol

What absolute dump are you referring to? The UK?


Does it help to throw slurs against every one who replies to your comments?


You should ask for a refund from your English teacher if you can’t comprehend my comment.


Why is the UK buying aphibias assault ships?
Are we attacking France or Eire?


You do realise the UK has had such capabilities for decades?


Yes. Even Italy seems to have more amphib capability these days French Dutch also


UK has been invading and pillaging other countries for centuries,


I’ll say this, the Royal Navy dose need LPD’s like the US Navy’s San Antonio class LPD or the Singapore Navy’s Endurance class LPD or even Taiwan’s Yushan-class landing platform dock. It would make sense because they would have 3 LPD’s available for any mission.


You realise you are jumping around in ships, the San Antonio’s are a different league compared to the others, with the pricetag to match.

Mr Bell

Id prefer a mixed fleet- 2 LPHDs and 4 MRSS- Italian Trieste design is a great LPHD and auxillary STOVL carrier

Peter S

Could have had those type of vessels if we hadn’t decided on 2 huge carriers we can’t afford to fill with aircraft. But that option is long gone.
If helicopter insertion is going to largely replace beach landings, using one of the carriers in an amphibious role (as was planned but dropped to save c£70m of alteration costs) makes sense. Chinooks or tiltrotors could be employed in useful numbers with a half squadron of F35 providing air defence. Follow on vessels could be commercial designs.
To deliver the change from larger to smaller forces ( a QE would be for larger scale operations), smaller, multi role vessels with self defence capabilities would be sufficient. They could have a secondary role in supplementing the too small escort fleet. For this, the Damen offerings seem more relevant than the much larger Ellida design.

Peter S

Not sure what you’re seeing.


Huge carrier ? The Charles De Gaulle normal combat jet air group is at the 25 Rafale level.
The Nimitz type has around 40 combat jets ( F-18) plus jammer F18G maybe 6 or so


Through deck LPD…


Why not two HMS Ocean like ships?

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Because the RN already has two 70,000 tonne aviation support ships it cannot fill with aircraft.


So if the requirement is more OTH airlift capacity, then the answer isn’t LPDs/LSDs, spend the money on helicopters instead.

My view would be a ASS/LPH to replace Argus, with additional ship-to-shore logistic capabilities on the 3 FSSs, and yes more helicopters/tilt rotors.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

You need both really. Your first wave goes in by air to secure the AOA. And then the second and subsequent waves by sea to bring mass.

Helicopters are fragile and don’t carry enough.


Not sure you got the memo, there is no wave two and there isn’t mass.

Transport helicopters are fragile which is why you combine it with fast insertion craft and overwatch from Apaches / F35Bs and Area Air Defence from the CSG.


Yes, like every other top tier navy has…

There is a brilliant article on this very website as to why the aircraft carriers should not be LPHs…

Peter S

That was 7 years ago, before we
– sold Ocean to Brazil without replacement
– finally acknowledged that we are never going to have enough F35s to fully load both carriers.
Even at the time, the argument in the article was not wholly persuasive. If a QE in an LPH role is too vulnerable to venture close enough to shore for helicopter launch( tiltrotors would give a much greater stand off range) then any other vessel- LPD, LSD etc is going to be too. In which case large scale landings in a contested environment must be recognized as impracticable.
Landings in a non contested environment could be delivered by civilian standard vessels.
If the aim is for small scale raiding operations, then a different type of vessel altogether is needed, something stealthy like the US Sea lion.
Before any designs can be evaluated, we first have to be clear about what exactly we want to be able to do.


A squadron of tiltrotors would cost more than two LPHs, but I sort of agree that could do the same job, but regardless the navy needs more big decks: a helicopter carrier could undertake ASW or amphibious operations depending on the threat and / or tasking and enable us to realistically have two task groups doing different things. Al-faw, Sierra Leone very different jobs both needed a helicopter carrier: one needed a couple of aircraft carriers.

‘Small raiding groups’ doesn’t really sound that useful now and could be done off anything. Now that we are moving back towards peer level threats it requires that level of deterrence. Air assault from the sea is far more common in the last 50 years than landing kit over a beach and our kit should reflect likely use.

And if LPHs aren’t very useful how come every other top tier Navy has them (except ours)

The Whale Island Zookeeper

There is a whole aspect here nobody is addressing. The ability to place an ARG before a conflict actually takes place is the reason why the US has them. It is the ability to cross a beach without port facilities before the shooting starts. As an enabler to allow forces to build if there is a need. To put a marker down.

We have two LPH’s, QE and PoW. They are more aviation support ships than they are fantasy strike carriers. The UK can just about scrape together a air group to match an MEU. Plus have space in the carriers for supporting capabilities such as Crowsnest and additional ASW cabs.

The trouble is the QE’s are the fleet when the Invincible’s supported the fleet. And we only just about managed to do the latter.


If you’re putting in an ARG “before a conflict begins” you just turn up to a friendly port with the Point class and any STUFT that’s available. Then you motor to where they’re needed. You don’t need to re-enact D-Day.
(And if there’s no ports then you cancel, because no way can you logistically maintain a fighting force ashore without one for more than a few days. Unless you’re proposing we should build some Mulberries…)

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Yes. Ocean did one job fantastically, prove that the UK needed two LHx built to fill naval standards.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

The article was rubbish.


Then why do you read it?


It seems to me the RN will want a lot of containers for PODS, probably some replenishment capability if the Waves are not replaced and surface fleet numbers increase as well as good aviation and medical facilities. Ship to shore is likely to be over the horizon, with ROROs used to bring in heavy metal after a landing, if required. Ship-to-shore can also be dispersed among more ships. Since the Dutch and British marines have the same CONOPs, expect more emphasis on aviation, ability to flex to other roles (medical/precision fires) and sustainment and less on short-range ship-to-shore connectors like landing craft.


Agree with Sisyphus.comment bang on the money or lack of.
who want to join up to the Armed forces this day and age ,the way veterans are treated after long service to serve the Nation and beside it would not be a British force but an EU ruled one.
Take Note: Join the British Arm Forces be come homeless after serving your ones country.

Homeless Vet please help.jpg

Were you in a coma from 2016 to 2020?
Britain has left the EU.



Die on the streets.jpg

He was offered help numerous times from numerous organisations, offical and charitable, and declined it.

Perhaps it should read
“Soldier Darren was offered a metric s**t tonne of help from numerous official and charitable organisations but turned it all down so that he could continue to live rough on the streets knowing that the chances where that his life expectance would be shortened”

Ok it won’t fit on the page and it’s not as sensationalist.

Some people don’t want the help when its offered.
What would you have done?
Sectioned him for declining the help?

The migrant issue has nothing to do with his death.

Defence thoughts

How much of the international aid budget would help people like him if it were diverted to helping veterans?


We already spend £350bn on benefits and £200bn on the NHS. The international aid budget is £15bn…. it’s not going to transform things.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Are you saying that we are better spending p*ssing £15bn up the wall on foreigners than £15bn on veterans?


I think they are saying that 15 billion wouldn’t magically change anything in this situation.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

We could be ‘borrowing’ that money to set up communities for ‘homeless’ veterans on surplus MoD land for example.

It wouldn’t solve the problem. But it would surely be a better use of it.

Especially as we have to borrow it.


Nope, I just don’t think more money is the answer – because the amounts being spent are already vast. It’s process, people, policy that needs fixing. So spending that money wouldn’t be the answer and nor would it really change things as it’s a small percentage. It’s like Labour saying VAT on public schools is the answer to education: these numbers are tiny. International aid used in the right way is very useful to us: preventing wars, creating investment and building trade. I don’t disagree that it almost is certainly not being used in the right way (why are we giving aid to India for an example!)

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Yes. I hear you. My point is that we borrow that money for no tangible results. If we are going to borrow money we might as well do something useful with it.

There is no metric you can give me that support any of those claims you make. Any gains don’t match the principal by some margin. You are just swallowing the propaganda.


I read a policy exchange paper which suggested after HS2 it would be the government spending most people in Britain would cut, so your view is that of the majority of people. I think there i# some value in it and I would reduce the number from 15bn to half that and put the other half towards defence and spend it in countries which are friendly to us.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

HS2? Where did I mention HS2?


£15 bill includes refugee programs within UK spent by Home office
Only £8.3 bill is ‘overseas’
Only 1.4 bill is for all of Africa


There seems to be some ships without a clear requirement (as others have said). Bulwark and Albion are warships and are built (and cost) accordingly, the rest are auxiliaries, so how can one design do both, without either they are all too expensive or the warships are not fit for purpose.

The most recent amphibious assault undertaken at scale was Al-Faw in 2003. 1000+ marines off two flat tops (Ark Royal and Ocean), with the US navy providing top cover from one of their carriers. We should aim to be able to repeat that task: which requires far more aviation facilities than any of these proposed designs. As others have stated LPDs very vulnerable so it makes sense that those could be 4 auxiliary type vessels following on from any air assault.

The most obvious thing would be two LPHs with docks (bigger Canberra’s maybe) – most navy’s in the world have come to a similar view (Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, France, Japan and the US), and direct replacements for the Bays.

These ships seem to be cheaper then other combatants and with the institutional knowledge we have we should be investing.

Final thing: surely the Albion’s can serve for far longer than 2032 as that OSD assumed they would actually be used as opposed to in mothballs half their useful lives. Could one be retained until 2040?

Phillip Johnson

I will make a bet even now the RN will never afford 6 LPD type vessels. You have to remember that the original idea was he majority of the vessels were to be effectively based on roll on roll off ferry designs with perhaps a couple of LPD’s or LPH’s on a very good day.
This smacks of a decade of tears followed by a drop to 2 or 3 under equipped vessels!

The Whale Island Zookeeper

I doubt we will get 2 to be honest.

Just enjoy playing fantasy fleets!

lewis carroll

Fantasy is the only weapon in the war against reality.


I think Dutch is NOT aiming at Enforcer, but aiming at Crossover.

Dutch requirement is or 6 hulls. This is a replacement for 2 LPDs and 4 Holland class OPVs. I guess this means Dutch is much more OPV oriented, amphibious capable. XO 131 L is 131m long, 5500 t, 18-22knots speed.
comment image

Another larger option, but still only 8000t FLD, is San Girogio class. 18knot, has a small well-dock.

comment image

One idea will be, RN also merge River B1 replacements, like Dutch navy and replace

  • 3 River B1 OPVs
  • 1+1 Albion LPDs
  • 3 Bays LSD


  • 4 Crossover 131L (5500t): RN, 2 with Command, 2 without but larger cargo.
  • 2 Elida (24000t) : RFA, no Command.


  • 3 renewed San Giorigio like LPD (8000t) : enlarge the lift to enable storing Merlin HC4 in the vehicle deck. All 3 with Command.
  • 2 Elida (24000t): RFA, no Command.

I broadly agree, but as its an inter-governmental agreement, I think we could / should end up with Crossovers from NL and Ellida from UK:


  • 4 Damen Crossover to replace the Holland Class OPV
  • 2 Ellida to replace their Enforcer based LPD’s


  • 3 Damen Crossover to replace Albion & Bulwark
  • 3 Ellida to replace Bays.

2 hulls, but commonality across both fleets and Marine Corps, both NL and UK industrial participation, designs from both countries, no one could complain too loudly about one country getting more work etc… ?


@donaldoftokyo I guess another question is how big do the Dutch want to go? You suggested the Crossover L at 5500 tonnes, the Holland Class OPV are just over 100m and 3,500 tonnes, and can do 21 kts, so the Dutch might find the smallest Crossover 115S at 4,500 tonnes and 21 kts fits the bill for them, whereas I think the RN would need the L or A (Amphibious) variant:

Crossover page:

XO 131 A PDF –


@jed Thanks.

1: I do not think NL “must” buy Elida. Just let the smaller vessel to be a joint venture. No problem.

2: By adding 2 Elida, I think RN can go with smallish options. But, for BOTH NL and UK, I think a 4500t vessel is too small.

Let’s start with Holland class 3500t. Just enlarging the hanger to be “2-3 Merlin capable” will make it 5000t or so. From RN point of view, the flight deck must be Chinook-capable. Then 5500t is not “too large”.

With 5500t, I think embarked Marine’s size will be less than a Company. If the operation is only for 2-3 days, maybe a full Company, only for short period. For a week long operations, I think they may need two of these vessels to do Company (enhanced) level operation. Not bad.


Moving from a 19k tonne capital ship to something smaller then our frigates would be a massive loss of capability.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

There has to be mass. And nobody, apart from some of us, seems to understand that. As I said above a USN USMC MEU is about as small as you can go. And we could just about muster that much for an annual cruise. What we need is a fast LPD to keep up with the carrier to allow 500 mile daily bounds.


Understand your point, but it will lead to smaller number. Say, 3 LHD, and nothing else. (like French navy).

And I think RN/RM is saying they will not go that way.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

The RN / RM would say a pedalo is what is needed if it thought that is what the government wanted.


Uhmm. We remember 6 Round table class LSL was operated by RFA. They were 5600t FLD. Let’s start with HMAS Toburk, modified Roundtable class of Royal Australian Navy.

Omit the beach-landing capability (which was rare used, anyway), improve the hull shape and increase the top speed from 18knots to 20knots. If you like, add a 57mm/76mm gun at the bow, and a helicopter hanger in the super structure. Keep the 2 LCM carriage.

The 5500t Crossover design will be slightly smaller in cargo capacity than HMAS Toburk (just because of adding helicopter hanger), but not much different.

“Not bad” is my impression.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

But they weren’t a warship for amphibious warfare but a follow on asset. [Let us not forget there weren’t RFA assets at first either…….]


Holland class are light frigates or misleadingly ‘offshore patrol vessels’ currently in Netherlands navy

Rotterdam class are 12k and 16k ton LPD
Maybe you wanted to enlarge the Danish not Dutch Absalons for more helicopters as well as larger loading deck ?


Thanks. I understand Crossover designs are Dutch “answer” to something like Danish Absalon but with “Crossover derrick to handle LCVPs”.

On Dutch LPD, it is not clear. My point is, Dutch navy is looking for 6 hulls, and their resource (such as money and man-power) shall come from 4 OPVs and 2 LPDs. So, “a vessel larger than Holland class, but significantly smaller than LPD” will be the answer. Just guess.

It this good for UK or not is another issue. Hence I propose 4 Crossover + 2 Elida option.


On the Crossover overview, it says: “In recent maritime operations navy ships were increasingly sent out on missions as single ships. Future ships need to be self-sustaining, self-reliant and capable of dealing with threats effectively.”
This was the brief for the hi end of the S2C2 plan, and formed the basis of the brief for Type 26, and T26 is anything but cheap. As soon as you’ve kitted out a Crossover to survive in a contested environment (weapons/sensors) then why not build a GP version of Type 26 sans ASW gear but with the weapons/sensors and that great big multimission space. Partner with a Bay class type vessel to scale up as needed. Benefit from harmony in logistics, support and training across this expanded ASW/GP T26 fleet.


A joint RN RNLN effort would be welcome. I could see a total of 6 to 8 ships coming out of this, which could also include Australia at some point.


Keep on daydreaming. RN can never agree on anything with the European, can you name any successful collaboration?

The Whale Island Zookeeper






That’ll be the PAAMS system where we have an RN bespoke system, only VLS and missile are really common.
The Leander class that the Cloggies bought as a licence rather than a collaboration and just fitted their own radars.
The Lynx is genuinely a collaboration (as was Gazelle).
Enforcer not really a collaboration, more a dutch concept design offered by Royal Schelde into pretend Swan Hunter for the LSDA.

It’s only a true collaboration when there’s a joint requirement / specification agreed. There are very few of them.


Lynx was a Westland design bought by other navies, Gazelle was a Sud helicopters design bought by others, same went for Puma
I dont see collaboration in that apart for semi license build/final assembly but they did that for the F-4 Phantom in that era

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


In this very Ernest debate about which type of ships and capability we might, or might not want after 2030, it seems that “we” are not learning the lessons of the past:


  1. By first getting lost, then fluffing an unplanned three-point turn, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s chauffeur accidentally causes the duke’s new-fangled automobile to stall. Thus the second assassin of that fateful day then gets his one and only chance…
  2. Turkey (Ottoman Empire) starts off WW1 (in 1914) as a neutral country, actually allied to us.
  3. However Turkey then gets extremely p*****d off that Royal Navy has “requisitioned” its two brand-new British built dreadnoughts, Reşadiye and Sultân Osmân-ı Evvel, without asking first. Turkey had just paid in full for them….
  4. In retaliation, Turkey closes the only choke point linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
  5. German warship Goeban arrives in Constantinople and, to cunningly disguise both its real ownership and its intentions, its sailors are immediately issued with Fez’s.
  6. Winston Churchill devises a strategy to open up the sea lanes to Odessa, intending to send in modern arms to support our allies and also to allow the export of lots of grain to help pay for these arms (Hint. Does this sound familiar today?)
  7. German general responsible for the organization of threadbare Turkish defenses thanks his luck stars he is given a few weeks warning of planned British landings.
  8. Turks lay a few mines (less than two dozen) in the Dardanelles and, to protect their minefield, add guns and searchlights. Therefore simple contact mines sink “rather a large number” of British and French ships, including several “rather large” ones.
  9. Allied troops land at Anzac Cove. However they fail to seize the adjacent high ground at Gallipoli quickly enough. Assault bogs down into trench warfare, with massive casualties on both sides. Newspaperman Mr. Murdoch (senior) makes a very big name for himself in Aussie by reporting the “scandal”.
  10. Over one century on, Aussies and New Zealanders still celebrate ANZAC day (it is their equivalent of our Brexit vote, to leave the EU in 2016).
  11. In 1935, Britain finally learns its lesson, and introduces the first driving test, the one with the notorious three point turn in it. A Mr Been passes it, first time….

Singapore 1941

  1. Japanese do not bother to build expensive computers to decipher eavesdropped messages. This is simply because they have already nicked all of the original codebooks from our Embassy’s safe’s, and photocopied them (i.e. obviously they would have been left unguarded at tea-time)
  2. British Army, Navy and Airforce all fail to coordinate the defense of our key naval base at Singapore: the key to what is now called the Indo-Pacific region.
  3. Two battleships are quickly sunk by torpedo bombers (Note. Using the tactics originally trained in 1921 by Mr Serpill, a former RN/RAF officer).
  4. Japanese’s soldiers then bicycle from Thailand to Singapore, a tactic previous described as “absolutely impossible” by all leading experts in jungle warfare.
  5. Singapore’s’ leadership, (i.e. the committee members of the posh golf club) call an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting). However, after a close vote, they refuse permission to dug defensive trenches across the 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes.
  6. The golf club committee only realizes the game is up when the island’s only water supply is cut off by ariel bombing, thus preventing their greens being watered.
  7. Just days afterwards, Britain huge naval base at Singapore capitulates .
  8. Golf club members are subsequently “recruited” to build railways…

Korean War 1950-53

  1. US Army General Douglas MacArthur, never a chap to do things by half measures, really wants to nuke China.
  2. However the nice Truman refuses to let him play with what (at that time) was the world’s only Red Button (thus ensuring Mr Truman’s place in history as the only person to have used it).
  3. MacArthur devises a brilliant amphibious landing at Inchon, hundred of miles behind the frontline at Pusan. Only a very high tide means North Korean seabed mines are ineffective.
  4. Very large number of small USN minesweepers are lost to mines. It is often forgotten today that half of ALL warships sunk since the end of WW2 (i.e. the global total) were lost in Korean waters in just those three years.
  5. Just remember that officially, North and South Korea are still at war. (There has never been a peace treaty signed).


Late 1970’s – UK MOD successfully sells state-of-the-art Type 42 destroyers to Argentina’s (very nasty) military dictatorship.

On the back of that sale, MOD then try to persuade Mr G. Altieri if he wants to “Go large with that order?” (and thus add some Harrier’s?)

Argies think about it, then buy Skyhawks instead….


Falklands 1982 – First Half

  1. Argentine (enemy) troops land near Port Stanley, in large numbers.
  2. However a handful of Bootnecks, as they had been trained to do, very promptly give the Argies a VGK (Very Good Kicking). UK’s 1st generation anti-tank weapon, the Carl Gustav – which was incidentally was yet another ATW we needed to purchase from neutral Sweden – very quickly causes a large number of casualties in the attacking force.
  3. Over in South Georgia, a second (even smaller) group of Bootnecks decides to add an Argie warship and helicopter to their unit’s tally.
  4. LPDs – the original Bulwark and Fearless – are both quickly reactivated.
  5. However only then is it realised that these ship’s are far too small internally, with not enough space for a fully equipped Bootneck to move around inside the ship: i.e. without him getting jammed in the doorway (sorry, on this Lookout website, I really must get into the habit of calling them hatches).

Falklands 1982 – Second Half

  1. An unnamed MOD officer walks to the phone box in Whitehall and, despite not being authorised to spend their entire year’s allocation of 10 pence pieces on just one phonecall, phones Cunard.
  2. Officer then asks the very helpful young lady who answers the phone at Cunard to book cruise tickets for “a very large group that need to travel immediately, with a lot of luggage”.
  3. The nice young lady at Cunard thanks him for his order…
  4. Key decision to land in an uncongested area was forced upon us by various minefields around Stanley. Thus one frigate was ordered (and it has to be added here the comment, “pretty ruthlessly”) by Admiral Woodward to transit Falklands Sound as a “pretend minesweeper”. Incidentally this transit results in the only surface ship naval action of the entire war.
  5. Argentine radar operators on the Falkland’s very cleverly use their air defense radars to track aircraft (Harrier) flight paths; and thus very-accurately estimate the positions of all UK aircraft carriers. Then Argies launch two Exocets, hitting our third carrier: Cunard’s Atlantic Conveyer. Fully one third of UK aircraft losses – the combined total of all rotary wing and fixed wing losses over three months – are caused by just those two missiles.
  6. On hearing that news, Mr Julian Thompson throws his very-carefully considered battleplan into the wastepaper bin.
  7. Bootnecks and Paras have to walk, only find their boots leak (this was because the MOD procurement department had only tested their combat boots whilst walking their dogs across Salisbury Plain in summer)
  8. Next generation of RN’s LPD, Bulwark and Albion, are built considerably larger than Fearless and Bulwark (only after the MOD procurement department had been advised to measure a Bootneck when, crucially, he is wearing his bergan)

Grenada 1983 (i.e. Using a large sledgehammer to crack a nut…)

  1. Norman Schwarzkopf (who in 1983 had not yet been re-gendered as “Storming”) reports the key issue during the invasion is severe inter-service rivalry.
  2. It was widely reported (at that time) that Norman wanted to personally shoot a US Marine Corps officer for failing to fly US Army troops on “his USMC helicopters”. This delayed the rescue of the hostage’s, who were waiting nearby on Grand Anse beach (Remembering that those hostages were the key reason for ordering the invasion)
  3. Admiral Metcalf reports that many communications channels aboard his flagship were jammed up with Pentagon (civil service) instructions about how US Army were to pay for US Navy fuel. this was quite complex, as they only had their “Army only” fuel cards on them.
  4. Metcalf immediately orders DOWP ( “Driving Off Without Payment”)
  5. Post-war, having been given a exceptionally hard kicking by Congressmen, US military’s planners have a rethink…


Very soon after just being paid by Mrs T for the ship very famously lost in the South Atlantic, Cunard show us all how to build an replacement aircraft carrier quickly and efficiently: and call it Atlantic Conveyor.

.(photos and website: Many thanks to “Tynebuilt ships”)

Late 1980’s

  1. US planners, learning the lessons from Falkland’s and Grenada, propose Air-Sea-Land Battleplan. In simple terms this was:
  • Drop in special forces (as covert recce teams)
  • USAF use long range bombers’ (B52 and B1B) to launch numerous stand-off cruise missiles, at both strategic and tactical targets
  • US Marine Cops kick in the doors from the sea, to secure beaches and especially airfields.
  • US Army 82nd and 101st Airborne units are planned fly in, as divisional sized reinforcements, directly from airbases in the continental US


  • Just before a heavily-televised press conference, a previously unknown East German bureaucrat fails to properly read his instructions. These were about relaxing the rules for family visas. Therefore, when asked by the Sunday Times journalist Peter Miller if this means that the Berlin Wall can be opened immediately the civil servant replies (totally incorrectly) “Yes”
  • The German’s immediately “Party like its 1989…”
  • However British squaddies complain that the BBC is not taking the event seriously, by banging on Jeremey Paxman’s cabin shouting “We want Kate Adie”
  • Over in the USSR (i.e. Russian Empire) President Gorbachov has to pay for the Chernobyl disaster (Its in Ukraine, quite near near Kiev).
  • Russian Empire soon declares bankruptcy. Therefore US Sea-Air-Land battle planners get to retire on a very good veterans pensions.

CIA and MI6 wonder for years afterward why they did not predict that a journalist would attend a press conference: and, as journos’ tend to do, then ask the “bleeding obvious” question…

Gulf War

  1. Despite having the the entire forces of the Reagan Cold War – all of the 600 ship US Navy and US Marine Corps – at his fingertips, George Bush (No W) calls area code 0044 from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and asks to borrow some small plastic warships.
  2. Iraqis, rather unsporting, aim their Silkworm cruise missiles at our small plastic minesweepers. Their RN crews, not entirely unsurprisingly, request back-up.
  3. USAF computers and USN computers refuse to talk to each other (in the words of comedian Ms C Ahern: “Computer says No”). Therefore, despite having three fully armed nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the Gulf, all raring to go to war, the US Navy is unable to launch any air strikes into Iraq. USMC invasion’s of Kuwait from the sea is cancelled.
  4. US Maritime Sealift Command (MSC) ships prove to be exceptionally useful logistically – delivering hundred of thousands of tons of supplies into Saudi (unfortunately it was by no means clear at the time whether – or not – all of these stores were actually needed).
  5. Soon there are so many US logistics trucks on the few roads in Saudi that BBC reporter Kate Aidie needs to call in a helicopter (literally) to cross the road. Adie reports, accurately, that this is because the US Army is transporting so many portable latrines up to the frontline.
  6. SAS is sent in to sort out Saddam’s SCUD missile launchers. Their mission is only partly successful. However the paperback “Bravo Two Zero” soon becomes a UK best-seller.
  7. The highest single number of coalition casualties in the Gulf war was in Dhahran, a logistics port about three hundred miles behind the frontline. The army reverse barracks at the quayside was hit by a single untargeted SCUD. Approximately half of ALL allied Gulf War casualties were at this one location.
  8. UK Defense Secretary Tom King is so furious with poor performance of all three UK armed services in the Gulf War – especially the lack of coordination – that he starts the process of setting up Joint Service Command and Staff College (JSCSC). This eventually opens at Shrivenham later that decade..
  9. 1996. Yours truly is invited, for the first time, to visit British Army wargaming at the Army Staff College at Camberley (in the posh bit of Surrey). I discover that the UK defense budget includes two full time employees who sole job is to be responsible for grading the sand in their very large sandpit (I have to add that it was a very impressive sandpit: it measured approximately 100 foot along each side). I also admired the very-large collection of miniature tanks and troops … we decide that it might be time to start talking to Army about “planning modern warfare with computers”

Guys, the first lesson that needs to be learn about any proposed amphibious warfare operation (now called littoral warfare in the 21st century) is that it needs to be a properly coordinated tri-service operation. Therefore the aims of Navy, Army, Air Force and their supporting merchant ships need to be coordinated = properly. History repeatedly shows us that picking the wrong option(s) will mean our ship’s will end up suffering from rising damp…

The second lesson must be that we never know where and when we will need to fight our next war. As World War Three is now looming up on the horizon, can I suggest that somebody phones Cunard, and asks them how to quickly build ships that actually work….

Peter the Irate Taxpayer


Another capability gap coming up fast on the starboard beam as the next government does some kicking into the long grass; as usual!


A few LHD like the Australian Canberra class would be better.
Mod the deck to allow F35B cross decking if needed (if carriers damaged or complicate oponates calculations) and increase armament – as standard hospital, 1000 embarked troops, 11 helicoptors and 110 vechiles and 4 landing craft (with space for ribs) in well dock.
and increase solid and liquid support ship buy.


The missing ship in this article is the Karel doorman, which is a really good platform and can do most of what we want already. If the arctic circle is important then Davey yards have a proposed version that is similar.

add in the solid stores ship requirement & the previously proposed LSGs and we should be looking at 12-14 ships.

the Karel doorman class really is the current benchmark imo, but we can improve it with a larger hanger wrapped around better RAS equipment.

2 merlin or single chinook landing spot is a good starting point for aviation facilities, with even bigger hanger (KDhas space for 6 Merlin’s)

real opportunity here to set the RN/RFA up for the next 30 years as well as CL & HW

Mc Spoilt B'stard

A few days ago Damen published its renewed Enforcer series LPD’s. The new series start at 120 x 26 m (9000 t) and ends at 180 x 28 m (19,500 t). The 120 to 132 variants could fit the RNLN LPX requirements as far we know at this point.

The 13226 ED will be my choice for the LPX series for the RNLN, this model can be found in the product sheet of the 12026 model. For the LPX we would need some changes to the platform to be the perfect match for the RNLN.

Bloke down the pub

The PLAN obviously understand the benefit of having a charitable hospital ship, even if the message is not getting across to UK bean counters. Chinese navy continues to fly the red flag in the South Pacific – Naval News


I’m sceptical about the RN getting six for six, and outright don’t believe the Dutch are serious about replacing the Hollands with such large hulls. I imagine they’re actually thinking about getting one large hull to use as the mothership to a number of what will inevitably be SIGMA based OPVs (because why not? SIGMA is selling very well). So they might outfit one LPX hull to look a lot like the Ellida concept. Then, as with Argus, this mothership will be forward deployed, somewhere.

But for the RN, they should dust off the S2C2 plans and take a hard look at what the Italians have done with PPA. Basically, go for a hi lo mix on a common hull, powerplant and system architecture, and procure two fully featured Albion replacements with three or four cheaper FFBNW siblings to replace the Bays (that therefore retain the ability to be upgraded in the future).

Reading the tea leaves, I wonder if reroling Argus as a “littoral strike ship” is not just an obvious way of testing a new concept ahead of procuring a better platform to fulfill that role, but also a way to establish the UK’s new minimum requirement for front line LPDs as three ships. Two are needed to generate ARGs alongside a CVBG, while a third is kept in the Gulf. Cunning, because the RN may now be hoping for at least three full spec hulls, beyond which a couple of FFBNW siblings would be a bonus, not a cut!

Shame a proper LHD design isn’t on the cards, though. But when you buy F35B, you incur a real political risk of having LHDs look like cheap alternatives to your brand new and more expensive carriers!