British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson spoke at the Royal United Institute for Defense Studies on the future development of defense policy. He said that two new amphibious ships of the type Littoral Strike Ships will be delivered to Her Majesty’s fleet, they will be redone from commercial ships.
The ships of the class Littoral Strike Ships are designed for combat operations in the near sea zone.
Gavin Williamson said he wants to increase the strength of the British navy by investing in ships of the new Littoral Strike Ship concept. If it is recognized as successful, it will be decided to accelerate the supply of such ships in the fleet. Ships of this class are capable of solving many combat missions, ranging from supporting the landing of a landing force to conducting full-fledged military operations.
The minister also said that ships of this class may be part of a formation intended for combat in the near-sea zone, accompanied by support and aviation ships. One such escort can be based east of the Suez Canal in the Indo-Pacific region, and the second to the west of it, in the Mediterranean, as well as in the Atlantic, Baltic and others.
If necessary, two ships of the class Littoral Strike Ship, an aircraft carrier, three landing dock and some more can be combined into a single group. Thus, an autonomous and deadly amphibious compound will be created, which is an effective force.
As some British media specify, the Littoral Strike Ships program (small warships) is sometimes denoted by another term - Future Littoral Strike Ship - FLSS are ships built on the basis of large civilian ferries or container ships. Most often it is about the use of ferries.
Each similar reworked ship is able to take on board 400 marines with full ammunition. In addition, it must be equipped with a helipad. Such a vessel should have various landing craft, including speedboats.
Essentially speaking, we are talking about the construction of ersatz-substitute universal landing craft (UDC) - but at a much lower cost.
The prototype of this idea can be considered expeditionary docks (floating bases) of the type Montford Point and Lewis B. Puller, built in the United States based on tankers.
In addition, the US Special Operations Forces Command is already using a similar ship, Ocean Trader.
The British Defense Ministry announced that the development is at the stage of developing the concept and design of ships of the class Littoral Strike Ships, but hopes to put these ships into operation within two years.
Littoral Strike Ships are new types of warships, which are multifunctional platforms built on the basis of commercial large-tonnage transport, for example, ferries, container ships, tankers. Due to the size of such ships, it becomes possible to accommodate amphibious units on their ships and ensure their presence anywhere in the ocean.
Such combat units will have the ability to carry on board various weapons systems, including missile ones. In addition, they will be able to act as a floating supply base. At the same time, the use of commercial hulls ensures the low cost of such ships and allows them to speed up their construction.
Recently, there are publications that in the United States are conducting research on the possibility of creating ships-arsenals, on the basis of commercial vessels of large size. Such platforms will be able to carry a large number of missiles of different classes.
The US Marine Corps is actively conducting research on ships that are close to large amphibious expedition ships, a kind of "floating islands." In some publications, the issue of creating floating bases is already considered solved.
It should be noted that for the Russian naval forces, the study of such ideas as the use of commercial ships can be considered quite reasonable. It is absolutely clear that the economic and technical capabilities will not allow the Russian Federation in the near future to ensure the construction of aircraft carriers or amphibious ships - and in general, build something larger than frigates.
It can be considered that the presence of a "floating island" converted from a supertanker in the region of a regional conflict can become much more effective measure than sending single frigates or rocket ships there.