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Bay Class Large Amphibious Landing Ships
Alternative Landing Ship Logistic [ALSL]

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary's Alternative Landing Ship Logistic project was set up in 1997, to replace RFA SIR GERAINT and RFA SIR PERCIVALE. These ships were initially planned to undergo a Ship Life Extension Programme, but this was abandoned in favour of new-build ships.

Four Bay Class Large Amphibious Landing Ships have been ordered, the first two of which are already under construction. RFAs Largs Bay and Lyme Bay are under construction at Swan Hunter Tyneside. Mounts Bay and Cardigan Bay will be built at BAE Systems Govan Yard on the Clyde and are due to enter service in 2005.

The ships are able to position themselves dynamically using a bow thruster and their steerable azimuth thrusters to discharge equipment without the need to anchor. The existing RFA Landing ships were designed to run up on a beach to discharge their cargo of men and vehicles.

The Bay Class are designed to operate over the horizon using helicopters and landing craft through a floodable stern dock to get men and equipment ashore.

The ALSLs are to transport troops, stores, equipment and vehicles world-wide and deploy them into battle. The ships are to be capable of offloading at sea, ‘over the horizon’. They will operate with other ships of the amphibious task group, but will be manned and operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The ALSLs may operate autonomously as supply ships.

The Alternative Landing Ships Logistic will significantly enhance the UK’s amphibious capability, each providing around double the capacity of an LSL. Together with the new Landing Platform Docks, they will deliver the modernisation of the UK’s amphibious shipping called for in the Strategic Defence Review. The ALSL will deliver early and significant improvements to UK Armed Forces’ ability to deploy rapidly and effectively world-wide. It is another significant step forward in implementing the Strategic Defence Review.

ALSLs provide the operational capability to underpin amphibious operations by carrying most of the amphibious force and its equipment into the operating area. Although the Landing Platform Dock (Replacement) (LPD(R)) provides the command and control function, it is the ALSLs that embark the largest balance of men, vehicles and stores that will sustain an amphibious assault. In addition to their war-fighting role, the ALSLs will be suited to disaster relief and other humanitarian missions.

These vessels will replace four of the current LSLs – RFAs Sir Geraint, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram, which are over 30 years old, and RFA Sir Galahad - by 2005, and represent a marked increase in capability, especially in a near-doubling in the carrying capacity of each ship and through increased speed of offload. Current estimate of total procurement costs is around £300M for the design and build of the four vessels and we expect to place a contract by the end of this year. The future of RFA Sir Bedivere, which underwent a ship life extension program between 1995 and 1998, will be reviewed.

The ALSL requirement was endorsed by the Strategic Defence Review which committed to providing specialist amphibious shipping for the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF). The ALSL requirement was subsequently increased to four ships, to achieve better value for money. The first two ships will be named RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Largs Bay.

The four ships are due to enter service between Autumn 2004 and Summer 2006. The budget for the first two ships is £140M. The price for the third and fourth ships, and lead yard services, is still to be negotiated. Four ships will be built, two by Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd, and two by BAE Systems Govan, all to the Swan Hunter design. Swan Hunter will provide lead yard services. A design and build contract was signed with Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd on 18th December 2000. The BAE Systems contract is to be agreed in 2001.

An Invitation to Tender (ITT) was issued to five UK shipbuilders on 14 April 2000 for the design and build of two ALSL vessels (with an option to take three more). Three tenders were received from Industry on 13 June 2000 from: Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd, BAE SYSTEMS Marine Ltd and Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd. Revised and confirmed bids were received on 18 October 2000.

On 26 October 2000 Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the selection of preferred bidders for the MOD’s landing ship and Strategic Sealift requirements. This package of work, worth £1.25 billion, secured over 2,000 jobs and create 1,000 new jobs in the UK’s shipbuilding industry.

Swan Hunter (Tyneside) was selected as preferred bidder to design and build two ALSLs. In order to ensure the new fleet’s introduction as soon as possible, BAE SYSTEMS Marine will, subject to detailed negotiations with the MOD and Swan Hunter, separately build 2 ALSL at their Govan shipyard (to Swan’s design, with Swan providing the necessary lead shipyard design services). Steelwork in both yards began around the middle of 2001.

Subject to the usual discussions, the MOD expected to sign contracts with Swan Hunter, creating 1,000 new jobs in their Tyneside shipyard, bringing the total workforce up to 1,800 at its peak and sustaining 200 jobs off-site. The separate contract with BAE SYSTEMS Marine is expected to help secure around 800 jobs in Govan – together with about 200 jobs off-site - and sustain that shipyard until Type 45 Destroyer work is expected to begin in the two Clydeside yards in 2003. The total value of these contracts is expected to be around £300M.

During the assessment of the tenders MOD looked carefully at the strong operational reasons for replacing more of the ageing LSL, and identified sufficient funding for two additional ALSL. In order to get the additional ships introduced into service more quickly than serial construction by one shipyard would have allowed, the MOD decided that Swans should be selected under this competition as the preferred bidder for the design and build of two ALSL; and that separately seek BAE SYSTEMS Marine should construct another 2 ALSL, which will be built to Swans’ design (and at a similar price) at Govan. As well as modernising the amphibious fleet, this work will sustain the Govan shipyard, which had been threatened by a gap in orders before Type 45 Destroyer work was expected to come on stream. Contract placements were planned to occur at the end of the year for an in-service date of 2004.


Speed 18 knots.
Length overall 176.6m
Beam 26.4m
Beam, inc Mexeflotes 32.2 meters
Design Draft 5.8m
Displacement 16,160 tons
Range 8000 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Crew 59
PropulsionDiesel electric with bow thruster adn azimuthing thrusters.
Dynamic positioning system to be fitted.
  • Transport 350 troops.
  • Transport about 1200Linear metres of vehicles.
  • Carry 12 x 40 TEU or 24 x 24 TEU containers.
  • Fitted with a floodable dock sized to operate one LCU Mk 10.
  • Carry and operate two LCVP Mk 5.
  • Carry and operate two Mexeflotes (powered rafts Transported fixed to hull sides)
  • AircraftTwin spot flight deck with limited facilities to transport and operate Merlin, Chinook and V22 Osprey.
  • Wide, uncluttered assault routes to allow fully-kitted troops unhindered passage to points of offload.
  • NBCD citadel.
  • Two upper-deck cranes.
  • Military communications.
  • Fitted to receive military weapons.
  • World-wide operation.
  • Commercial standards to be used where possible. Registered with MCA as Class 1 Passenger Ship and classed by Lloyd's Register.

  • Ships

    NameNumberBuilder HomeportCommissioned DecommNOTES
    Largs Bay.Swan Hunter Tyneside....
    Lyme Bay .Swan Hunter Tyneside....
    Mounts Bay.BAE Systems Govan Yard ....
    Cardigan Bay.BAE Systems Govan Yard ....