The primary role of HMS Fearless is as a landing platform dock. In this role, HMS Fearless can transport a military force complete will full supporting armour. Landing craft capable of carrying heavy tanks are housed in the ship's internal dock and are launched from the open stern. The ship can also operate a flight of assault helicopters and defend itself with the Phalanx automated gun system. HMS Fearless is also fitted out as a Naval Assault Group/Brigade HQ from which naval and military personnel, working in close co-operation, can mount and control a joint amphibious operation.
HMS Fearless will be replaced with the new LPDs Albion and Bulwark. These new ships will provide a significant increase in carrying improved landing craft and with a state of the art Combined Operations Room complex. HMS Fearless will be extended in service until HMS Albion's in-service date in March 2003 to mitigate the loss of capability resulting from the delays to the new ships. The bulk of the existing capability is provided by HMS Fearless and this will remain the case. The other unit of the Fearless class, HMS Intrepid, was in mothballs and unlikely to be reactivated. HMS Intrepid remained at a low state of readiness and downgraded capability because of her material condition until her Out of Service Date (OSD) of June 2001.
The landing platform HMS FEARLESS was nearly 37 years old and was due to pay-off in November 2002, her replacement, HMS ALBION, is due to enter service in January 2003. The second Landing Platform Dock Replacement, HMS BULWARK, is on schedule to enter service in December 2003. It was originally planned for FEARLESS to enter a period of assisted maintenance on her return to Portsmouth, from her deployment on operations in the Indian Ocean. It is now judged that, for a vessel of her age, this would not be cost-effective. Instead it is proposed to withdraw her from service. FEARLESS's replacement HMS ALBION will be conducting sea trials later in the year before entering service in January 2003. Both ALBION and her sister ship HMS BULWARK, which is planned to enter service towards the end of 2003, will be significantly more capable than their predecessors HMS FEARLESS and HMS INTREPID which was withdrawn in 2001. The new vessels are equipped with vastly more sophisticated command, control and communication systems. They will provide a greatly enhanced all weather tactical picture capability, will be able to deploy their carried troops much more quickly - by air and sea - and will use landing craft with 20% more landing capability and a RO RO type configuration for rapid embarkation of vehicles.
HMS FEARLESS [Pendant Number L10] is an assault ship of many talents, catering for a wide spectrum of use. HMS FEARLESS was completed in November 1965. She was used as the venue for the Rhodesian/UK government talks at Gibraltar in 1968. She was part of the Falkland Islands Task Force campaign in 1982. She took over the 'Dartmouth Training Squadron' duties alternately with HMS INTREPID, her sister ship. When she wasn't doing the 'DTS' Cruise, she would have the army and Royal Marines onboard doing exercises. Most of the time was spent in the Mediterranean on cruises, though she did sometimes go to Scandinavia for her cruise. In between cruises she called back to the UK to load and unload cadets, soldiers, marines and stores. HMS Fearless was built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff launched in December 1963 by Lady Hull. She has served throughout the world in her primary role as an assault ship and Headquarters, or as many Royal, Commonwealth and Foreign Naval Officer will remember her, as the Dartmouth Training Ship. The ship's first joint service operation involved landing Irish Guards by landing craft and RAF helicopters in Aden in 1966. During the Falkland was in 1982, Fearless was the Command ship for the Amphibious Task Force and led the way into San Carlos Water. Later, Major General Moore set up his headquarters in Fearless and the initial surrender negotiations were conducted, with General Menendez, on board in the Commodore's Cabins.
During the Falklands conflict in 1982 the experience gained by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines from their extensive training in amphibious operations proved vital. The landings at San Carlos clearly demonstrated the ability of HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid to launch and support amphibious operations and the value of suitably adapted merchant ships to supplement the logistic landing ships. 3 Cdo Bde, reinforced by 2 PARA, 3 PARA and other elements proved ideally suited for the task. The helicopters deployed with the landing force played an invaluable part. The weather, terrain and the likely requirement to land away from established ports were similar to the conditions British forces would face in Norway, on NATO's northern flank. On the nights 5/6 and 6/7 June 1982 the Scots Guards and elements of the Welsh Guards were successfully moved by HMS Intrepid and HMS Fearless. The deployment of the balance of the Welsh Guards was thwarted by appalling weather.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|