A contract was awarded on 19 November 2001 for the construction of the third and fourth vessels of the Bay Class Landing Ship Logistic by BAE SYSTEMS Marine at Govan. The ships, to be named RFA MOUNTS BAY and RFA CARDIGAN BAY respectively, will be sister ships to RFA LARGS BAY and RFA LYME BAY which are being constructed by Swan Hunter (Tyneside) Ltd at its Wallsend yard. These four new vessels will replace the ageing SIR PERCIVAL, SIR GERAINT, SIR TRISTRAM and SIR GALAHAD. They will enter service in 2004-2005 and be operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

As amphibious ships, the Bay Class will move troops, equipment and stores to wherever they are required in the world, and deploy them directly into operations. They will operate in the front line in close support of the assault ships HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK, and the helicopter carrier HMS OCEAN. They can also act independently for low intensity operations such as peace support, humanitarian and disaster relief missions. The ships will be able to be fitted with a range of self defence armaments when they are sent on operations and will have a military communications package to ensure communications with other ships in an amphibious force.

The new vessels are larger, more versatile and more capable than the ships they replace. Major improvements include a considerable increase in vehicle-carrying capacity. The larger flight deck and the internal floodable dock will enable faster offload and onload, by sea and air, through properly configured assault routes and the ability to operate landing craft in the open sea.

The current mexeflote will be carried fixed to both sides of the hull. Each ship will have two 30 tonne cranes to load equipment and containers onto the upper deck. Vehicles will embark through the dock or via a side ramp when the ship is alongside. In addition to the vehicle deck, there is further space for stowage of vehicles on the forward end of the upper deck, accessed by a lift from the vehicle deck. The single spot flight deck will operate a Chinook sized helicopter.

The ships are powered by a diesel-electric propulsion system in which large diesel generators provide power to electric motors. The electric motors will drive two steerable thrusters - a first for a large naval vessel. These give the ships excellent manoeuvrability and avoid the need to anchor during docking operations. The propulsion thrusters also mean the ship is not fitted with rudders - another first for a naval vessel. The ships do not have traditional funnels, as cooled exhaust from the diesel engines will be expelled through vents at the stern.

The project is known by MoD as Alternative Landing Ships Logistic because it started life as an alternative to the costly, and subsequently abandoned reconstruction programme for the ageing LSLs. However, the fifth ship of the RFA's existing force of LSLs, SIR BEDIVERE, was recently modernised and is expected to remain in service with the four new Bay Class vessels for the foreseeable future.


Main design:

Length overall: 176.6 m

Maximum beam: 26.4 m

Maximum beam, incl Mexeflotes: 32.2 m

Approx deep draught: 5.8 m

Deep displacement: 16,160 tonnes

Speed: 18 knots

Complement: 60 RFA personnel

Military lift:

Troops: 356

Landing craft: Two LCVP5 or one LCU10 in the dock

Mexeflotes: Two transported fixed to hull sides

Vehicle decks capacity: 1200 linear metres (including 36 tanks on main vehicle deck)

WMR: 200 tonnes

Aviation facilities: Single spot Chinook capable flight deck

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