The Bay class is a ship class of four dock landing ships built for the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) during the 2000s. Two ships each were ordered from Swan Hunter and BAE Systems Naval Ships. Construction work started in 2002, but saw major delays and cost overruns, particularly at Swan Hunter's shipyard. In mid-2006, Swan Hunter was stripped of work, and the incomplete second ship was towed to BAE's shipyard for completion. All four ships, Largs Bay, Lyme Bay, Mounts Bay, and Cardigan Bay had entered service by 2007.
Since entering service, the Bay-class ships have been used for amphibious operations, training of the Iraqi Navy in the Persian Gulf, counter-drug deployments in the Caribbean, and relief operations following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2010, Largs Bay was removed from service as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. She was sold to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2011, who now operate her as HMAS Choules.Design
The Bay class was designed as a replacement for the five Round Table-class (named after Round Table Knights) logistics ships operated by the RFA. Planning for the class began in the 1990's, after the original intent to modernise and extend the service life of three Round Tables ran into problems with extensive corrosion and problems implementing new safety standards. After the first Round Table returned to service two years late and after excessive cost, the Ministry of Defence began to investigate the acquisition of new ships.
The Bay class is certified as a class 1 passenger ship, with design similarities to roll-on-roll-off-passenger-ship/ferries (RO-PAX). The design is based on the Royal Schelde Enforcer, a joint project between the Dutch and Spanish resulting in the Rotterdam-class and Galicia-class amphibious warfare ships. The main difference is that the British ships have no helicopter hangar. The ships were originally designated Auxiliary Landing Ship Logistics (ALSL), but this was changed in 2002 to Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) (LSD(A)), better reflecting their operational role and bringing them into line with the NATO designation for the Royal Schelde vessels.
The Bay-class ships have a full load displacement of 16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons). They are 579.4 feet (176.6 m) long, with a beam of 86.6 feet (26.4 m), and a draught of 19 feet (5.8 m). Propulsion power is provided by two Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, providing 6,000 horsepower (4.5 MW), and two Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, providing 9,000 horsepower (6.7 MW). These are used to drive two steerable azimuth thrusters, with a bow thruster supplementing. Maximum speed is 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph), and the Bay-class ships can achieve a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). The ships were designed to receive an armament of two Phalanx CIWS, two manual 30 mm DS30B cannon and various small arms, but the exact weapons fit varies within the class.
In British service, the everyday ship's company consisted of 60 to 70 RFA personnel, with this number supplemented by members of the British Armed Forces when the ships are deployed operationally. For example, Largs Bay 's deployment in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake saw her sail with a core crew of 70, plus 40 Royal Logistic Corps personnel for boat- and cargo-handling duties, and 17 from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for security and related tasks. Australia operates Choules (ex- Largs Bay) with a permanent crew of 158 including a Ship's Army Department of 22.
As a sea-lift ship, each Bay-class vessel is capable of carrying up to 24 Challenger 2 tanks or 150 light trucks in 1,150 linear metres of space, with stern- and side-ramp access to the vehicle deck. The cargo capacity is equivalent of 200 tons of ammunition, or 24 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers. During normal conditions, a Bay-class ship can carry 356 soldiers, but this can be almost doubled to 700 in overload conditions. The flight deck is capable of handling helicopters up to the size of a Chinook, as well as Merlin helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. There is no hangar for long-term embarkation of a helicopter, although a temporary shelter can be fitted to house a Merlin or smaller helicopter. The well dock can carry one LCU Mark 10 or two LCVPs, and two Mexeflotes can be suspended from the ship's flanks. Two 30-ton cranes are fitted between the superstructure and the flight deck. Internal passages are wide enough to allow two fully kitted marines to pass each other.
1. RFA Largs Bay (L3006) In Service 2006. (Later sold to Australia in 2011 as HMAS Choules (L100))
2. RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) In Service 2007.
3. RFA Mounts Bay (L3008) In Service 2006.
4. RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) In Service 2006.Type:
Landing ship dock (auxiliary)Displacement:
16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons; 17,810 short tons)Length:
579.4 ft (176.6 m)Beam:
86.6 ft (26.4 m)Draught:
19 ft (5.8 m)Propulsion:
2 × Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, 6,000 hp (4.5 MW)
2 × Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, 9,000 hp (6.7 MW)
2 × azimuthing thusters
1 × bow thrusterSpeed:
18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)Range:
8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)Boats and landing craft carried:
1 × LCU or 2 × LCVP in well deck
2 × Mexeflote powered raftsCapacity:
1,150 linear metres (vehicles)
200 tons or 24 TEU (cargo)Troops:
356 (standard), 700 (overload)Crew:
70 (RFA, core only), 158 (RAN)Armament:
2 × 30mm DS30B cannon
2 × Phalanx CIWS
4 × 7.62mm Mk44 Miniguns
6 × 7.62mm L7 GPMG
Individual outfit varies across classAviation facilities:
Flight deck for helicopters up to Chinook-size.