Bay-class landing ship

The Bay class is a ship class of four dock landing ships built for the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) during the 2000s. They are based on the Dutch-Spanish Royal Schelde Enforcer design and intended as a replacement for the Round Table-class logistics ships. Two ships each were ordered from Swan Hunter and BAE Systems Naval Ships. Construction work started in 2002, but saw major delays and cost overruns, particularly at Swan Hunter's shipyard. In mid-2006, Swan Hunter was stripped of work, and the incomplete second ship was towed to BAE's shipyard for completion. All four ships, Largs Bay, Lyme Bay, Mounts Bay, and Cardigan Bay had entered service by 2007.

Since entering service, the Bay-class ships have been used for amphibious operations, training of the Iraqi Navy in the Persian Gulf, counter-drug deployments in the Caribbean, and relief operations following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2010, Largs Bay was removed from service as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. She was sold to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2011, who operate her as HMAS Choules.

RFA Mounts Bay, a Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) (LSD(A)), leaving Portsmouth Dockyard MOD 45145830
RFA Mounts Bay leaving Portsmouth
Class overview
Builders: Swan Hunter and BAE Systems Naval Ships
Preceded by: Round Table class
  • £596m programme cost;
  • BAE ships cost £127m each[1]
Built: 28 January 2002-26 November 2007
In commission: 13 July 2006-present
Completed: 4
Active: 4
General characteristics
Type: Landing ship dock
Displacement: 16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons; 17,810 short tons)
Length: 579.4 ft (176.6 m)
Beam: 86.6 ft (26.4 m)
Draught: 19 ft (5.8 m)
  • 2 × Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, 6,000 hp (4.5 MW)
  • 2 × Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, 9,000 hp (6.7 MW)
  • 2 × azimuthing thusters
  • 1 × bow thruster
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
  • 1,150 linear metres (vehicles)
  • 200 tons or 24 TEU (cargo)
Troops: 356 (standard), 700 (overload)
Crew: 70 (RFA, core only), 158 (RAN)
Aviation facilities: Flight deck for helicopters up to Chinook-size
Notes: Derivative of the Enforcer ship design


The Bay class was designed as a replacement for the five Round Table-class logistics ships operated by the RFA.[2] Planning for the class began in the 1990s, after the original intent to modernise and extend the service life of three Round Tables ran into problems with extensive corrosion and problems implementing new safety standards.[3] After the first Round Table returned to service two years late and after excessive cost, the Ministry of Defence began to investigate the acquisition of new ships.[3]

In April 2000, the MoD released an Invitation to Tender for two ships under a budget of £150 million, with the option to acquire three more.[3] Appledore Shipbuilders, BAE Systems Naval Ships and Swan Hunter submitted tenders, but only Swan Hunter's design met all the tender requirements, at a price of £148 million.[1] A shortfall of work for BAE's Govan yard led to fears that it could not deliver the Type 45 destroyers and Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers planned for later in the decade, so the Treasury agreed to fund an additional two LSDs to be built at Govan.[1]


The contract for Largs Bay and Lyme Bay was awarded to Swan Hunter on 18 December 2000 and the £122 million contract for Mounts Bay and Cardigan Bay was awarded to BAE on 19 November 2001.[1] Construction on Largs Bay started at Swan Hunter on 28 January 2002, and on Mounts Bay at BAE on 25 August 2002.[2]

Swan Hunter struggled to manage the project and contain costs; only 7% of the design drawings were provided on time and more than 52% were over a year late.[1] Swan Hunter's owner, Jaap Kroese, has blamed the MoD for continually changing the specifications.[4] The extent of the problems only came to light in September 2003, when Swan Hunter said they could not fulfill the contract at the agreed price.[1] In November 2004, progress on Largs Bay was delayed by water entering two engines during engine trials, putting the planned first of class behind work on BAE's first ship.[1] The following month the government agreed to pay Swan Hunter an extra £84 million under new contract terms, but in June 2005 Swan Hunter said that they still could not finish the job within budget.[1] This led to their contract being cancelled and BAE taking over the project in July 2006.[1] In total Swan Hunter had been paid £342 million and BAE £254 million, making a total of £596 million for the four ships.[1]

Govan Shipbuilders - - 465129
Lyme Bay being fitted out at BAE's Govan shipyard in early 2007. The hull of this vessel was built by Swan Hunter on the river Tyne, but was transferred to BAE for completion in 2006.

Mounts Bay entered service in July 2006,[2] followed by Largs Bay in November of that year, 28 months later than originally planned.[1] The incomplete Lyme Bay was towed to Govan for completion by BAE.[5][6] Lyme Bay was dedicated on 26 November 2007; the last ship of the class to enter RFA service.[2] The ship was the only warship built by Swan Hunter but not completed; she marked the end of shipbuilding on the Tyne, as soon afterwards Swan Hunter sold its equipment to India and reinvented itself as an engineering consultancy.[5][4]


The Bay class is certified as a class 1 passenger ship, with design similarities to ro-pax ferries.[3] The design is based on the Royal Schelde Enforcer, a joint project between the Dutch and Spanish resulting in the Rotterdam-class and Galicia-class amphibious warfare ships.[2] The main difference is that the British ships have no helicopter hangar.[7] The ships were originally designated Auxiliary Landing Ship Logistics (ALSL), but this was changed in 2002 to Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) (LSD(A)), better reflecting their operational role and bringing them into line with the NATO designation for the Royal Schelde vessels.[3][8]

The Bay-class ships have a full load displacement of 16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons).[2] They are 579.4 feet (176.6 m) long, with a beam of 86.6 feet (26.4 m), and a draught of 19 feet (5.8 m).[2] Propulsion power is provided by two Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, providing 6,000 horsepower (4.5 MW), and two Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, providing 9,000 horsepower (6.7 MW).[2] These are used to drive two steerable azimuthing thrusters, with a bow thruster supplementing.[2] Maximum speed is 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph), and the Bay-class ships can achieve a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[2] The ships were designed to receive an armament of two Phalanx CIWS, two manual 30 mm DS30B cannon and various small arms, but the exact weapons fit varies within the class.

In British service, the everyday ship's company consisted of 60 to 70 RFA personnel, with this number supplemented by members of the British Armed Forces when the ships are deployed operationally.[2][9][10] For example, Largs Bay's deployment in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake saw her sail with a core crew of 70, plus 40 Royal Logistic Corps personnel for boat- and cargo-handling duties, and 17 from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for security and related tasks.[10] Australia operates Choules with a permanent crew of 158 including a Ship's Army Department of 22.[11]

As a sealift ship, each Bay-class vessel is capable of carrying up to 24 Challenger 2 tanks or 150 light trucks in 1,150 linear metres of space, with stern- and side-ramp access to the vehicle deck.[2][3] The cargo capacity is equivalent of 200 tons of ammunition, or 24 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers.[2] During normal conditions, a Bay-class ship can carry 356 soldiers, but this can be almost doubled to 700 in overload conditions.[2] The flight deck is capable of handling helicopters up to the size of Chinooks, as well as Merlin helicopters and Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.[2][8] There is no hangar for long-term embarkation of a helicopter, although a temporary shelter can be fitted to house a Merlin or smaller helicopter.[3] The well dock can carry one LCU Mark 10 or two LCVPs, and two Mexeflotes can be suspended from the ship's flanks.[2][8] Two 30-ton cranes are fitted between the superstructure and the flight deck.[2] Internal passages are wide enough to allow two fully kitted marines to pass each other.[3]

Operational history

"Largs Bay L3006" in Portland harbour - - 1458486
RFA Largs Bay in Portland Harbour, August 2009

In 2006 Mounts Bay took part in Operation Vela, a major amphibious exercise off West Africa.[1]

In mid-April 2007, Cardigan Bay sailed for "Operation Orion 07", a four-month deployment to the Mediterranean. From 2008 until the end of 2010, Cardigan Bay was used to accommodate and train personnel of the Iraqi Navy under the tutelage of Royal Navy and United States Navy personnel.[3] During this time, the ship operated almost exclusively in the Persian Gulf.[3]

In late November 2007, Largs Bay was deployed to the Caribbean for counter-drug operations.[12] During the deployment, the ship visited ports across the Caribbean islands and the United States mainland, and intercepted a 575-kilogram (1,268 lb) cocaine shipment.[12] In late 2008, it was reported that Largs Bay was to replace the frigate Northumberland for duties in the Falkland Islands. Northumberland was to have left for the Islands in December 2008, but was instead sent for an anti-pirate patrol off Somalia.[13]

On 3 February 2010, Largs Bay headed to Haiti with aid supplies for relief efforts after the earthquake.[14] On 18 February 2010, she arrived at Port-au-Prince and commenced unloading of the supplies.[15] On 30 March 2010, she returned home.[16]

In December 2010, it was announced that a Bay-class vessel, later identified as Largs Bay, would be decommissioned in April 2011 as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.[17][18] On 17 March 2011, the Australian Department of Defence announced that the RAN would be bidding for Largs Bay; this was followed on 6 April by news that a £65 million (A$100 million) bid had been successful.[19][20] She was commissioned into the RAN on 13 December 2011 as HMAS Choules, after receiving modifications for service in tropical conditions.[21][22] A transformer in the propulsion system failed when she was en route to a training area on 14 June 2012, after earlier reports that the ship could not maintain top speed without transformers overheating.[23] An insulation failure had short-circuited the failed transformer, while others aboard were showing signs of premature wear.[24] With no spares available, the need to order from the manufacturer combined with the decision to replace all of the transformers aboard meant that Choules was kept out of service until April 2013.[25][26][27]

In June 2011, Cardigan Bay headed to Yemen to aid with the potential evacuation of British citizens affected by the ongoing unrest there.[28]

Ships in the class

HMAS Choules starboard bow
HMAS Choules at Fleet Base East in January 2012
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Name[2] Laid down[2] Launched[2] In service[2] Out of service[2] Notes
RFA Largs Bay (L3006) 28 January 2002 18 July 2003 28 November 2006 April 2011[17] Sold to RAN in April 2011[20]
RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) 22 November 2002 3 September 2005 26 November 2007 - Active as of early 2019
RFA Mounts Bay (L3008) 25 August 2002 9 April 2004 13 July 2006 - Active as of early 2019
RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) 13 October 2003 8–9 April 2005 18 December 2006 - Active as of early 2019
 Royal Australian Navy
Name Acquired In service Out of service Notes
HMAS Choules (L100) (ex-Largs Bay) 6 April 2011 13 December 2011[21] Active as of 2019

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2007 Volume III: The Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) Project" (PDF). National Audit Office. 30 November 2007. ISBN 9780102951486.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Saunders (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 2008-2009, p. 876
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Scott, Sweating the asset: versatility is the key to LSD(A) multi-tasking
  4. ^ a b Deighan, Gareth (14 February 2008). "People blame the MoD for Swan Hunter's decline, not me. But I Know better". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle.
  5. ^ a b Armstrong, Last Ship Leaves the Tyne
  6. ^ BBC News, Unfinished ship arrives on Clyde
  7. ^ Kemp, New UK landing ship takes to the water
  8. ^ a b c Scott, The Royal Navy's Future Fleet
  9. ^ Kerr, Amphibious Ambitions
  10. ^ a b Johnson, Ian (4 February 2010). "RFA Largs Bay Haiti Diary". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  11. ^ "HMAS Choules passes first capability test off North Queensland". Australian Department of Defence. 19 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  12. ^ a b Royal Navy, 815 Naval Air Squadron in RFA Largs Bay
  13. ^ UPI, Britain withdraws warship from Falklands
  14. ^ BBC News, RFA Largs Bay leaves Southampton bound for Haiti
  15. ^ Daily Express, Royal Navy aid ship reaches Haiti
  16. ^ Scammel, RFA Largs Bay returns home after earthquake aid mission
  17. ^ a b Defence News, Changes to Royal Navy's surface fleet announced
  18. ^ 'Themistocles', The UK SDSR and JP 2048 Phase 4C – A Golden Opportunity
  19. ^ Taylor, Australia to buy amphibious military transport ship, aircraft
  20. ^ a b Australian Associated Press, Australia to buy used UK landing ship
  21. ^ a b Australian Broadcasting Corporation, HMAS Choules commissioned in honour of veteran
  22. ^ Flash Traffic: Purchase of Largs Bay, in The Navy
  23. ^ Kerr, Julian (6 July 2012). "Choules faces six-month lay-off as report points to overheating issue". Defence Security Report. IHS Jane's.
  24. ^ Australian Associated Press (17 October 2012). "Navy unclear why $100m ship broke down". (The Sydney Morning Herald). Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  25. ^ McPhedran, Ian (25 June 2012). "Missing spare part grounds Navy ship". AdelaideNOW. Adelaide Advertiser. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  26. ^ "In Brief: Work on Choules". Navy News. Directorate of Defence News. 6 December 2012. pp. 6–7.
  27. ^ West, Sarah. "HMAS Choules returns to sea". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  28. ^ Press Association, Marines on standby to evacuate Britons in Yemen


  • Saunders, Stephen (ed.) (2008). Jane's Fighting Ships 2008–2009. Jane's Fighting Ships (111th ed.). Surrey: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2845-9. OCLC 225431774.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Journal articles
  • Brown, Nick (13 July 2006). "UK strips Swan Hunter of LSD(A) role". Jane's Defence Industry. Jane's Information Group.
  • "Flash Traffic: Purchase of Largs Bay". The Navy. Navy League of Australia. 73 (3): 13. July 2011.
  • Kemp, Ian (25 July 2003). "New UK landing ship takes to the water". Jane's Defence Weekly. Jane's Information Group.
  • Kerr, Julian (22 December 2011). "Amphibious ambitions: expanding Australia's naval expectations". Jane's Navy International. Jane's Information Group.
  • Scott, Richard (4 September 2003). "The Royal Navy's Future Fleet – Taking Shape". Jane's Defence Weekly. Jane's Information Group.
  • Scott, Richard (3 August 2011). "Sweating the asset: versatility is the key to LSD(A) multi-tasking". International Defence Review. Jane's Information Group.
  • 'Themistocles' (January 2011). "The UK SDSR and JP 2048 Phase 4C – A Golden Opportunity". The Navy. Navy League of Australia. 73 (1): 2–3.
News articles

External links

ALC 50

The Australian Landing Craft 50 or ALC 50 was a class of Landing Craft Utility operated by the Australian Army in the 1960s.

Amphibious warfare ships of Australia

The Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army have operated 24 amphibious warfare ships. These ships have been used to transport Army units and supplies during exercises and operational deployments.

Bay class

Bay class can refer to any of the following classes of ships:

Bay-class frigate, serving the Royal Navy from 1943 until the 1960s, the Finnish Navy until 1973 and the Portuguese Navy during the late 1960s

Bay-class tugboat, serving the United States Coast Guard from 1979 to the present

Bay-class landing ship, serving the Royal Navy as part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary from 2006 to the present, and the Royal Australian Navy from 2011 to present

Bay-class minehunter, serving the Royal Australian Navy from 1991 until 2001

Bay-class minesweeper, serving the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces from the 1950s to the 1990s, and also serving in the French and Turkish navies

Bay-class patrol boat, serving the Australian Customs Service from 1999 to the present

DS30B rapid fire cannon

The DS30B rapid fire cannon is a rapid-fire ship-protection system created by MSI-Defence Systems mounting a 30mm Oerlikon KCB gun.

Dock landing ship

A dock landing ship (also called landing ship, dock or LSD) is an amphibious warfare ship with a well dock to transport and launch landing craft and amphibious vehicles. Some ships with well decks, such as the Soviet Ivan Rogov class, also have bow doors to enable them to deliver vehicles directly onto a beach (like a tank landing ship). Modern dock landing ships also operate helicopters.

A ship with a well deck (docking well) can transfer cargo to landing craft in rougher seas than a ship that has to use cranes or a stern ramp. The US Navy hull classification symbol for a ship with a well deck depends on its facilities for aircraft – a (modern) LSD has a helicopter deck, an LPD also has a hangar, and an LHD or LHA has a full-length flight deck.

HMAS Choules

HMAS Choules (L100) is a Bay-class landing ship that served with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) from 2006 to 2011, before being transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The vessel was built as RFA Largs Bay by Swan Hunter in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear. She was named after Largs Bay in Ayrshire, Scotland, and entered service in November 2006. During her career with the RFA, Largs Bay served as the British ship assigned to patrol the Falkland Islands in 2008, and delivered relief supplies following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

At the end of 2010, Largs Bay was marked as one of the vessels to be removed from service under the Strategic Defence and Security Review. She was offered for sale, with the RAN announced as the successful bidder in April 2011. After modifications to make her more suited for Australian operating conditions, the vessel was commissioned in December 2011 as HMAS Choules, named after Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules. A propulsion transformer failure kept the ship out of service between July 2012 and April 2013.


HMAS LST 3008 was a landing ship tank which was briefly operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built at Harland and Wolff in Belfast during World War II and was launched on 31 October 1944. She served with the Royal Navy as HMS LST 3008 until 1 July 1946 when she was transferred to the RAN. She was used as a transport in RAN service until 1948 when she was placed in reserve. HMAS LST 3008 was sold for scrap on 4 June 1950 and was scrapped in Sydney in the 1950s.


HMAS LST 3014 was a landing ship tank which was briefly operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built at Barclay Curle in the United Kingdom during World War II and was launched on 11 November 1944. She served with the Royal Navy as HMS LST 3014 until 1 July 1946 when she was transferred to the RAN. In RAN service she was used to dump ammunition at sea. HMAS LST 3014 was sold for scrap on 4 June 1950.

HMAS Lae (L3035)

HMAS Lae (L3035) was a Landing Ship, Tank which was operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built by William Denny and Brothers at Dumbarton, Scotland during World War II and was launched on 24 October 1944.

She served with the Royal Navy as HMS LST 3035 until 1 July 1946 when she was transferred to the RAN and commissioned as HMAS Lae. She saw almost no service with the RAN, however, as she was placed in reserve later in 1946 and was not reactivated.

HMAS Lae was sold for scrapping in Hong Kong on 9 November 1955. Lae and the former HMAS Labuan left Sydney under tow for Hong Kong on 28 October 1956 carrying a load of scrap metal. On 3 November Lae ran aground on South Percy Island off the coast of Queensland and was abandoned after an attempt to recover her cargo failed.

HMAS Tarakan (L3017)

HMAS Tarakan (L3017) was a Mark III Tank Landing Ship, or LST(3), that served in the Royal Navy (RN) during 1945 and 1946 and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1946 until 1954.

HMAS Wewak

HMAS Wewak (L 130) was the fifth ship of the Balikpapan class of heavy landing craft operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).


HMPNGS Buna is a Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft operated by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). Prior to 1974, the vessel was called HMAS Buna (L 132) and was operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Her Majesty's Naval Service

Her Majesty's Naval Service, also known as the Senior Service, is the United Kingdom's naval warfare and maritime service. It consists of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve and Naval Careers Service. The term Naval Service should be distinguished from the "UK Naval Services", which consist of the Naval Service and the Merchant Navy. The Naval Service as a whole falls under the command of the Navy Board, which is headed by the First Sea Lord. This position is currently held by Admiral Sir Phillip Jones (appointed April 2016). The Defence Council delegates administration of the Naval Service to the Admiralty Board, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence.

The Naval Service is dominated by the Royal Navy, and operates primarily from three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based; Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe. As of 2016, there are over 184 vessels in service with the various branches of the Naval Service and supporting organisations, including; 75 commissioned ships of the Royal Navy, 33 landing craft of the Royal Marines, 63 auxiliary vessels of Marine Services and 12 auxiliary ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. As of March 2019, Her Majesty's Naval Service employed a total of 40,600 personnel.

The total displacement of HM Naval Service and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is approximately 778,000 tonnes.

LCVP (Australia)

Since 1993, the Royal Australian Navy has operated four Australian-designed and built Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (similar in size and concept to the World War II LCVP) from the landing ship, heavy ex-HMAS Tobruk, replenishment oiler HMAS Success and LSD HMAS Choules. These aluminum craft were built by Geraldton Boat Builders and can carry up to 36 personnel or a Land Rover with a half-ton trailer. They are maintained for the RAN by the firm DMS Maritime. As of 2018, T4 and T6 were held in reserve at the naval base HMAS Cairns, T5 and T7 were carried by Choules . The craft remained in service as of 2018.

Landing Ship Medium Mark II

The Landing Ship Medium Mark II was an amphibious warfare ship developed for the Australian Army in the late 1960s. The Army and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) were unable to reach agreement on the ship's specifications and the project was cancelled in the early 1970s.

List of ship decommissionings in 2011

The list of ship decommissionings in 2011 includes a chronological list of ships decommissioned in 2011.

List of ship launches in 2003

The list of ship launches in 2003 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 2003.

List of ship launches in 2005

The list of ship launches in 2005 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 2005.

RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009)

RFA Cardigan Bay is a Bay-class landing ship dock of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). Built by BAE Systems, the ship was dedicated into the RFA at the end of 2006.

Bay-class landing ships
 Royal Fleet Auxiliary
 Royal Australian Navy
Landing ship docks


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