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Bay Class LSD(A) Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary)

These vessels replaced 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.

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 would be named RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Largs Bay.

The four ships were due to enter service between Autumn 2004 and Summer 2006. The budget for the first two ships was 140M. The price for the third and fourth ships, and lead yard services, was to be negotiated. Initial estimate of total procurement costs is around 300M for the design and build of the four vessels. Four ships would be built, two by Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd, and two by BAE Systems Govan, all to the Swan Hunter design. Swan Hunter provided lead yard services. A design and build contract was signed with Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd on 18th December 2000. The BAE Systems contract was 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 sustained 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.

RFA Mounts Bay is one of four LSD (A) Class, Amphibious Support Platforms. Mounts Bay was constructed by BAE (Naval Ships) at Govan on the River Clyde, Launched by Lady Sarah Band, in April 2004, she became the first 'Bay' class vessel to achieve completion and following extensive sea trials was first to be accepted in to service in July of 2006. A formal service of dedication took place in September of that year to mark the Transfer of Operational Command to Fleet.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary marked a new addition to the flotilla with a Service of Dedication held at Portsmouth Naval Base on Sunday 17 December 2006. Built by Swan Hunter on the River Tyne, RFA Largs Bay (L3006), is one of four Bay Class Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) or LSD(A).

RFA Cardigan Bay is the 3rd of its class and the 2nd to have been built in Govan Ship Yard, Glasgow, Scotland. The ship left the Yard in early August and spent the rest of 2006 and early 2007, developing herself and crew into an operational capable platform. Tuesday 6th March 2007 was the ships most important and proudest moment, to date and saw her formally welcomed into the fleet.

RFA Lyme Bay is the last ship to be built at the Wallsend Yard as part of four ships collectively known as the Bay Class. Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) or LSD(A). Completed nine weeks ahead of schedule, RFA Lyme Bay left the River Clyde at the end of June and completed a series of post-contract enhancements prior to handover. The last of the Bay Class was built initially at Swan Hunters' shipyard on Tyneside and brought to Glasgow for completion in July 2006. The vessel was officially handed over by BAe Systems to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary at Portland Port on Thursday 02 August 2007.

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