Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Tempest414 »

wargame_insomniac wrote: 11 Dec 2021, 17:48
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Dec 2021, 11:11 This is what I said up thread if type 32 was 5 Absalon's with the weapons lay out above plus 2 x LCVP davits and a steel beech and we had 5 MRSS that were capable of carrying 300 troops 4 x Merlin , 2 x LCVP & 2 x LCU. Add to this 1 light carrier of say 230 x 45 meters capable of operating 12 F-35 and 14 helicopters and 400 troops for me we would be in a great place capable of having 3 x full LRG's and 3 x light LRG's as so

Full LRG) 1 x Type 32 and 1 x MRSS ( deployed Baltic , Med , EoS )
light LRG) 1 x Type 31 and 1 x Type 32 or MRSS ( deployed Gulf , EoS and from the Home fleet as seen fit )

Any of these groups could join up as needed and could also be joined by the Light carrier and say a type 45 this could allow say the full and light LRG's EoS or in the Baltic to join up and look like

2 x type 32 , 1 x type 31 and 1 x MRSS carrying 6 x Merlin's , 3 x wildcats , 6 x LCVP's , 2 x LCU's and 600 troops .

Or it could look like

1 x Light carrier , 1 x Type 45 , 1 x type 32 , 1 x type 31
I am a bit confused. You are talking about adding 5 MRSS to 5*T31 and 5*T32. Plus a CVL.
And what size are you anticipating the 5*MRSS to be in terms of length and dsiplacment?
Is that all above as well as Albion, Bulwark, 3*Bays and Argus? Or instead of?

If its's the former then how on earth are we going to pay for it?

If its the latter then feels a shame to say goodbye to ALL of the larger LPD/LSD. Yes - we do need some smaller ships for smaller dispersed Littoral Strike missions, but seems we are lacking ability to move a complete RM Brigade if needed to say Norway or Baltic.

What about Point class? Presumably we still need them to able to move high readiness British Army units?
As these smaller forces of RM won't be able to hold their positions for long as they move back towards their Commando roots.
My view is the 1 Albion , 3 Bay's , Argus will be replaced by 5 MRSS. I would like to see the MRSS as a 185 x 30 capable of carrying 4 helicopters , 2 LCU;s snd 2 x LCVP's on 2 Davits plus 300 troops in norm 500 in over load

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Scimitar54 »

What about the other “Albion” ? Do you foresee HMS Bulwark being retained, or being replaced by something else ?

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Tempest414 »

I see Bulwark being retained but not replaced this being said I would like a Light carrier so maybe one of the Albion's could be replaced by that leaving the other to be replaced by said MRSS

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by wargame_insomniac »

Tempest414 wrote: 12 Dec 2021, 14:00 My view is the 1 Albion , 3 Bay's , Argus will be replaced by 5 MRSS. I would like to see the MRSS as a 185 x 30 capable of carrying 4 helicopters , 2 LCU;s snd 2 x LCVP's on 2 Davits plus 300 troops in norm 500 in over load
OK - thanks for clarifying what you meant.
I guess the unknown for now is what the government intends for 5 MRSS in terms of length / size / troop capacity to know if that would work.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Lord Jim »

Currently both Albions are to be replaced by MRSS as are the Bays.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Scimitar54 »

Not True! See the following parliamentary question and reply:-

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans his Department has to replace HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.
Answer Jeremy Quin
Conservative Horsham


Commons Answered on 25 October 2021
On current plans, HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK are due to retire from service by the end of 2034.

As part of the transformation of our Commando Forces, options for our future amphibious capability are being developed; these are currently at the concept stage.

Similar to looking to stretch and widen the Invincible class to be able to operate the (then) next generation aircraft, It was looked at ……… and ……….. it did not happen, because it was not suitable.

Similar also to C1, C2 & C3 Frigates or later on, plans for 13 x GCS, which became 8 x T26 and 5 x T31 and who knows, due to increasing threat levels may have to change again.

i.e. Nothing has been decided until the option or options are chosen and the funding has been allocated !

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Lord Jim »

The first half of the 2030s is when it is currently planned that the MRSS will replace both the Bays and Albions, so say the latter are due to retire in 2034 is in tune with this. But as I mentioned a lot can happen to plans between now and then, just look at the Littoral Strike Ship idea which was supposed to be a fast track programme, ground to a halt and then could be said to be reborn as the MRSS but on a much longer timescale. The comparison is TEMPEST, it is planned to enter service around the same time as the MRSS but nothing has been set in stone or really decided yet.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Poiuytrewq »

Lord Jim wrote: 13 Dec 2021, 14:58…..nothing has been set in stone or really decided yet.
Simply because the FCF as a concept needs to mature. The Littoral Strike Ships were designed almost exclusively for short endurance littoral strike Ops. The UK’s Amphibious forces clearly need to do a lot more than short endurance littoral strike hence the move away from the LSS style vessels.

The MRSS is the next step in the evolution but the design characteristics are so vague at this stage the ultimate direction of travel remains very unclear. IMO the aviation capacity remains insufficient on all concepts released so far.

One thing is for sure if six Ellida style MRSS replace the entire MCM fleet, 4 Bays, 2 Albions, 2 Waves, Argus and Ocean it will be one the biggest cuts in the Roual Navies post war history.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Caribbean »

Though, of course, they could just as well be considered replaced by:

Two QNLZ-class carriers
Three SSS
Four River B1 replacements
Five Absalon-style T32
Six Rotterdam-class MRSS
Seven MWLSS
Eight T26
Twelve P2000 replacements
.... and a partridge in a pear tree

Sorry - couldn't resist that last bit :)

There are a lot of potential build programs on the horizon and I wouldn't be surprised if they go in a very different direction to what we think at the moment.
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Lord Jim »

The Future of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Amphibious shipping is solely linked to the Future Commandos Force and the Littoral Support Units it will deploy. The latter is well underway with the first standing up by the end of this year and the second by the end of 2022. Each is formed from a respective Commando at will rotate personnel to maintain the forward deployed force. Each LSU will comprise around 150 Army and Royal Marine Personnel, and so each MRSS will have to be able to accommodate these personnel plus its crew and and personnel belonging to any aviation component. As far as vehicles are concerned, the vessels will have to probably hold around half a dozen Vikings and around a Dozen Polaris type vehicles, and up to a battery of 105mm Guns, with logistics being provided by Helicopter.

So a MRSS will embark and be able to launch up to a company sized raiding force, nothing larger, and by this being the shape of the FCFs role, it will probably take a real emergency for a larger force to be deployed on multiple MRSS, it probably being easier to bring in additional assets via sea on board one or more Points or by air.

As far as ship to shore connectors are concerned, my guess and to be clear I am just joining the dot I have read so far, initally personnel will be transported via Helicopter and by ORCs and other RHIBs I cannot see more than three Merlin sized Helicopters being assigned to a MRSS but it maybe able to handle more for specific missions, involving aircraft form the RAF and AAC. For larger equipment, these may also be delivered to shore by Helicopter and Polaris type platform can actually be carried inside a Merlin or Chinook, and a Viking can be carried by a Chinook or by two Merlins, each carry part of the vehicle which can easily be joined back together once in place. Of course the MRSS could also unload in a friendly port if available.

One point that may arise is how the MRSS is to be equipped to defend itself and whether it will be capable of providing things such as fire support to the RMs ashore? Looking at some of the light amphibious landing ships the USN is looking at to meet a similar requirement, the MRSS could be far more heavily armed than traditional amphibious assets. However the MoD may not be able to afford such capabilities and instead rely on escorts believed to be initally the T-31s and then the planned T-32s. I personally do not like this policy the RN has of not providing its major assets with a reasonable self defence capability, the Carriers being a classic example as are the Albions.

I must admit I an more interested in the MRSS than either the T-31 or T-32 programmes and look forward to seeing if I am anywhere near the mark or way of base.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »

Moving from the Escort Thread:
Repulse wrote: 07 Jan 2022, 16:20 I probably need to take this thought over to the Amphibious thread, but expanding on my earlier thoughts, perhaps one option would be for the RN to build a “grey fleet” for the FCF based on a variety of converted existing commercial ships - each capable of being kitted out with mission specific Containers/PODs. How many could be bought / converted for the same price as a couple of MRSSs?

In parallel I would then replace the 3 Bays and Argus on a one for one basis to support the deployment of an Army (or Purple) brigade under the RFA.
Here is a what if scenario for a way forward for RN Amphibious Strategy:

- The three Bays are kept in service under the RFA until the 2040s but allocated to moving a globally deployable Army Brigade (the old Fearless class where 40 when they were decommissioned).
- RFA Argus is replaced as is (using some of the MRSS budget) but the ability to transport AAC helicopters is a primary role alongside PCRS, and again allocated as required to transport an Army Brigade.
- Using the remainder of the MRSS budget a RN “grey fleet” of (say 8-12) converted ex-commercial vessels are purchased to support FCF operations along with adaptable container / POD kit to allow each to be configured for specific missions. No need for consistency in design, in fact better if each are different sizes and classes, but they should be able to blend in with other commercial traffic.

Crazy perhaps, but perhaps the non conventional thinking required…
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Lord Jim »

Some interesting ideas, but the one where the MRSS could blend in with commercial shipping is a step too far. Given the headlines that have been written about the vessels and their role, any hostile country is going to want to track them and it shouldn't bee too hard to do so, especially in key choke points or in said countries littoral zones. On the plus side this will increase their deterrence value if the ships and what they carry is done right. Mind you I cannot see there being more than six MRSS as they only have to be able to carry a Company of RM, plus a number of SF and the means to get them to and from the ship effectively. A converted civilian hull maybe the way forward but I personally believe the MRSS should be more warship that basic RFA.
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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by wargame_insomniac »

Repulse wrote: 07 Jan 2022, 20:02 Moving from the Escort Thread:
Repulse wrote: 07 Jan 2022, 16:20 I probably need to take this thought over to the Amphibious thread, but expanding on my earlier thoughts, perhaps one option would be for the RN to build a “grey fleet” for the FCF based on a variety of converted existing commercial ships - each capable of being kitted out with mission specific Containers/PODs. How many could be bought / converted for the same price as a couple of MRSSs?

In parallel I would then replace the 3 Bays and Argus on a one for one basis to support the deployment of an Army (or Purple) brigade under the RFA.
Here is a what if scenario for a way forward for RN Amphibious Strategy:

- The three Bays are kept in service under the RFA until the 2040s but allocated to moving a globally deployable Army Brigade (the old Fearless class where 40 when they were decommissioned).
- RFA Argus is replaced as is (using some of the MRSS budget) but the ability to transport AAC helicopters is a primary role alongside PCRS, and again allocated as required to transport an Army Brigade.
- Using the remainder of the MRSS budget a RN “grey fleet” of (say 8-12) converted ex-commercial vessels are purchased to support FCF operations along with adaptable container / POD kit to allow each to be configured for specific missions. No need for consistency in design, in fact better if each are different sizes and classes, but they should be able to blend in with other commercial traffic.

Crazy perhaps, but perhaps the non conventional thinking required…
Liked the first two third but the final point would worry me, hoping that the MRSS would blend into commercial traffic.

The Bay class are 16,000 tonnes. I quite like the Makassar / Tarlac Class LPD's used by several of the ASEAN counties. which are roughly 11,500 tonnes.

If you wanted to make them more of a warship tha an RFA, then you could envisage something built off an escort hull redesigned. If you took something like the Absalon Class (the Danish precurssor to the Iver Huitfield on which the T31 was originally based), stripped out the RORO deck and substituted it for a well deck, and maybe extended helicopter deck able to cope with couple choppers operating simultaneously, then it could deliver RM force by both air and sea.

Could give it enough weaponry for it to be able to defend itself against enemy patrol boats and corvettes. Maybe 1-2 guns at 40mm/30mm scale, some 0.5" MG, CIWS or maybe even SeaRam to give it rudimentary close-in basic AAW defence. Enough for it to operate in the grey area but not against enemy escort sized ships without it's own escort.

And if it shared much of the hull with T31, there might be some economies of scale, either in construction and/or maintenance and supplies in service.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »

wargame_insomniac wrote: 07 Jan 2022, 23:31 Liked the first two third but the final point would worry me, hoping that the MRSS would blend into commercial traffic.
What I’m proposing is that there is no MRSS, it’s a complete change of thinking.

We retain a dedicated force consisting of the three Bays and a replacement Argus (as an AAC Aviation Support Ship) for the purposes of transporting globally an Army (or Army plus RM) brigade to a secured port or landing ground.

The fleet for the FCF will be non conventional, not based around a single design but a tailored collection of converted commercial vessels ranging from Fishing Boats to larger Tankers/Cargo ships. Each ship would be converted (invisibly) to improve damage control, add additional sensors and be able to transport mission specific pods (which would include offensive weaponry). Given the threat level the crew would be specially selected RN members.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Tempest414 »

Repulse wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 09:10
wargame_insomniac wrote: 07 Jan 2022, 23:31 Liked the first two third but the final point would worry me, hoping that the MRSS would blend into commercial traffic.
What I’m proposing is that there is no MRSS, it’s a complete change of thinking.

We retain a dedicated force consisting of the three Bays and a replacement Argus (as an AAC Aviation Support Ship) for the purposes of transporting globally an Army (or Army plus RM) brigade to a secured port or landing ground.

The fleet for the FCF will be non conventional, not based around a single design but a tailored collection of converted commercial vessels ranging from Fishing Boats to larger Tankers/Cargo ships. Each ship would be converted (invisibly) to improve damage control, add additional sensors and be able to transport mission specific pods (which would include offensive weaponry). Given the threat level the crew would be specially selected RN members.


For this to work there would need to be a complete blackout on the ships they would have to operate out of non naval bases be maintained out side normal naval contracts and be changed every 2 years and even then Russia and China will know about them and will others know

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »

Tempest414 wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 12:08 For this to work there would need to be a complete blackout on the ships they would have to operate out of non naval bases be maintained out side normal naval contracts and be changed every 2 years and even then Russia and China will know about them and will others know
Not if they are kept to look the same as other commercial vessels and they play around with AIS. In peacetime they could fly the ensign and even be in different colours (like the Serco fleet), but when it comes time to wartime, these could quickly change and the fleet could be expanded to include other STUFT.

All fantasy I realise, but I just can’t see a traditional way of the RN breaking into a half decent A2AD bubble.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

In modern world, it is not easy to "hide" even a Merchant ship.

1: Ships are getting larger. They are clearly visible in radar, and all such ship are turning on its AIS. You can "fake" your AIS, but anyway tracking each ship is easy, combined with a fleet of surveillance satellites. And, also, UAV can easily come and provide visual inspection.

2: so-so heavily arming the amphibious ship means
- high purchase cost and high operational cost, resulting in less number of hulls.
- also it means reduced sea-going days.
Both combined, the amphibious ship "at sea" will be significantly decrease. Easily a half. Not surprised even if 1/4.

3: A T26 can carry
- reinforced RM platoon
- "2 Wildcat and 6 ORC crafts, and 2 RHIBs" or "2 Merlin, 2 ORC, and 2 RHIBs" or "5 Wildcats and 2 RHIBs" intis hangar, mission bay and boat-davit.
- of course, it is heavily armed.

If there are money, well-armed amphibious ship may work. Anyway, the key point is, "who is the supposed enemy?". It all depends on this issue...

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »

donald_of_tokyo wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 13:06Anyway, the key point is, "who is the supposed enemy?". It all depends on this issue...
I don’t think that is the question anymore - either directly or indirectly it will be either Russia or China. There could be another Sierra Leone type operation but that would be manageable with airborne troops and the Bay/Argus RFA fleet.

The RM will be a global raiding force, with perhaps a secondary role to strengthen/enable the transportation of an Army Brigade. It’s strength will be it’s ability to be distributed across multiple platforms so a few LPDs/LHDs don’t cut it.

You are right to point out the T26s, freeing these up from the CSGs enable them to be the global cruisers they were designed for, including hosting RMs and their kit. Equally the B1/B2 Rivers will provide additional platform options.

Adding to this 6-12 converted ships in the 3-6,000t bracket like SD Victoria or cargo ships, then the RMs have immediately 20-30 raiding platform options outside of the CSG.

Yes, they could still be tracked but it’s a lot more difficult than tracking half a dozen escorted larger MRSSs.
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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by wargame_insomniac »

Repulse wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 16:15
donald_of_tokyo wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 13:06Anyway, the key point is, "who is the supposed enemy?". It all depends on this issue...
I don’t think that is the question anymore - either directly or indirectly it will be either Russia or China. There could be another Sierra Leone type operation but that would be manageable with airborne troops and the Bay/Argus RFA fleet.

The RM will be a global raiding force, with perhaps a secondary role to strengthen/enable the transportation of an Army Brigade. It’s strength will be it’s ability to be distributed across multiple platforms so a few LPDs/LHDs don’t cut it.

You are right to point out the T26s, freeing these up from the CSGs enable them to be the global cruisers they were designed for, including hosting RMs and their kit. Equally the B1/B2 Rivers will provide additional platform options.

Adding to this 6-12 converted ships in the 3-6,000t bracket like SD Victoria or cargo ships, then the RMs have immediately 20-30 raiding platform options outside of the CSG.

Yes, they could still be tracked but it’s a lot more difficult than tracking half a dozen escorted larger MRSSs.
Its either a mad idea or genius. Personally I lean to the former but what do I know.

As for the MoD's thinking, it is hard until we have seen at least the first official outline as to what either the T32 or the MRSS will be. I do agree that we will have various different options for landing RM's depending on the number and size of landing party.
20-50 troops - maybe River B2/B3
50-100 troops - T31/T32
100-200 trrops - MRSS
200+ troops - full LSG etc

I am keen for the UK to purchase some V-22 Ospreys and larger Landing Craft Air Cushions to give two faster options of *hopefully) stealthily deploying RM's. If the MRSS could deploy both that would be a big plus.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Lord Jim »

From what I have read about the FCF, each of the two relevant Commandos will be linked to a given LSG, providing a number of LSU, each around 150 personnel that will rotate for service in each LSG. This will allow a surge in wartime of additional LSUs. Those Commandos on other vessels like the B2 Rovers originate form a separate Commando and are specifically trained for such a role.

The Royal Marines are rapidly restructuring themselves, with the first LSUs already formed. For the FCF to work they need the MRSS, the Bays and Albions will suffice to enable the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary to develop new operating procedures and finalise the list of requirements for the MRSS, but they are not really the right assets for the job. The ultimate test of the LRG and the MRSS will be their ability to pierce an peer enemy's A2/AD zone working with other key assets like SF, SSNs and the CSG using precision strike to open a window. The LSU will then be tasked with either widening the the gap or engaging the enemy deeper with the aim of keeping the enemy off balance. They will not be following the plan the USNC is developing to take and hold areas, using them to further degrade an enemy's A2/Ad zone methodically. We simple will not have either the assets or capabilities to do this, though we would be able to compliment allies forces doing the latter, very effectively.

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

Repulse wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 16:15
donald_of_tokyo wrote: 08 Jan 2022, 13:06Anyway, the key point is, "who is the supposed enemy?". It all depends on this issue...
I don’t think that is the question anymore - either directly or indirectly it will be either Russia or China.
Really? Where at China and Russia? At what region, or islands?

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »

donald_of_tokyo wrote: 09 Jan 2022, 14:49 Really? Where at China and Russia? At what region, or islands?
In my view we are in a new worldwide Great Game with at least three players (US, China and Russia), potentially there is also the EU though they seem content on focusing regionally on Europe (depends if a US independent foreign policy approach takes off under French leadership).

Look at current top of active / potential warzones where the UK has opposite allegiances / interests to Russia and/or China.

- Afghanistan ->Taliban backed by China and Russia
- Syria -> Assad is backed by Russia
- Yemen -> the Houthis are backed by Iran who are backed by Russia and China
- Mali -> Mali government now backed by Russian mercenaries
- Ethiopia -> Russia and China are becoming more vocal in their support for the Ethiopian government
- Libya -> LNA is backed by Russia
- Venezuela -> Nicolás Maduro backed by China and Russia
- Ukraine -> Direct conflict with Russia
- North Korea -> backed by China

If any of these conflicts turned hot and the UK got involved, whilst there is a limited chance of fighting Russia and China directly, it is likely that the opposition could have Chinese / Russian mercenaries, advisors and latest equipment.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Repulse »



"Civilian Vessels" eh? Who would have come up with that crazy idea... :shock:
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Tempest414 »

I am sure it is more needed than planned but lets not forget that China has

3 x LHD ( troops carried not known but 800+ would be a good guess )
8 x LPD's ( each able to carry 800 troops )
18 x LST's ( each able to carry 250 troops )
11 x land ships ( each able to carry 500 troops )

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Re: Current & Future Amphibious Capability - General Discussion

Post by Defiance »

Tempest414 wrote: 12 Jan 2022, 10:11 I am sure it is more needed than planned but lets not forget that China has

3 x LHD ( troops carried not known but 800+ would be a good guess )
8 x LPD's ( each able to carry 800 troops )
18 x LST's ( each able to carry 250 troops )
11 x land ships ( each able to carry 500 troops )
The initial force needed for Taiwan invasion is probably in the order of 100k+ troops, maybe even double that*. Then there's the follow-up waves, equipment, vehicles, personnel etc which will need to be ready to leave the mainland as the invasion commences. If they put that entire fleet to sea at once, they can shift 20k troops at once.

That's part of the reason why China exercising with civilian shipping makes people nervous, it's the only real way they'll be able to scale up to the level of capacity required for a relatively temporary offensive in a cost-effective way. They're preparing, or want to appear to be preparing, for an invasion of a highly urbanised, mountainous island with a standing army of 100k+ and reserve forces numbering more than 1.5 million. They need to move a ludicrous amount of stuff across to Taiwan if they want to invade.

*Ian Easton in "The Chinese Invasion Threat" theorises from Chinese material that the expected overall force needed to capture the islands may scale up to 1 million PLA personnel in the ensuing battle to secure the island post-landing.

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