The Bay Class….Brilliant Motherships? or just Logistics?

Posted on November 27, 2010


RFA Mounts Bay

Here are the vitals:

Crew: 60

What they can Transport :


  • Troops – 356, materiel – 1,200 linear metres of vehicles; including up to 32 Challenger II MBTs & 32 Warrior IFVs, or 150 land rovers, or various other combinations


  • 12 x 40 TEU or 24 x 24 TEU containers


Landing Craft: 2 x LCVP Mk.5 or 1 x LCU Mk10, 2 x Mexeflotes


RFA Cardigan Bay

Overall Length: 176m

Beam: 26.5m

Draught: 5.8m

Full Load Displacement: 16,200t


Speed: 18kt


Range: 8,000nm


  • Type: Diesel electric
  • Diesel Engines: 2 x Wartsila 8L26 engines (2,240kW each), 2 x Wartsila 12V26 (3,360kW each) engines


RFA Sir Bedevier…what the Bay Class replaced


The ship design has included weight and space allocation for 4 30mm gun emplacements, a Phalanx close-in weapon system and decoy launchers for chaff and infrared flare rounds. there are also rumours that they can be fitted with a vls designed for the launch of sea wolf missiles…although these have not be substantiated by any official site or source in an explicit manner.

The superstructure is located far forward to provide the large available space to the aft of the ship for the helicopter deck.


RFA Largs Bay alongside next to the Grand Turk


“The helicopter deck has the capacity for two landing spots and allows simultaneous operation of two medium-size helicopters”such as EH101 Merlin, or Sea King

The helicopter deck structure is reinforced for two static load points and will also support operations by a Chinook helicopter, an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and Support and Amphibious Battlefield Rotorcraft.

A helicopter hangar is not installed as standard, but tempory ones (picture above) are often fitted to those vessles on counter drug operations in caribean, as well as those operating in the south atlantic; they are usually big enough to support either 1 medium or 2 light helicopters in shelter; although most rotor maintenance will have to be carried out on the deck.

My Analysis

I like these ships, they are very good at sea keeping, and can carry a lot, I just wish they were fitted with not for on the weapons, I also think a permanent hangar should have been included and a definite plus in my opinion would have been the construction of 6 or even 9 of these excellent vessels. The fact that they are ‘D’s of the amphibious trade means that they can operate Landing Craft with maximum ability; making them very useful tools of modern amphibious warfare – in both the logistical and tactical sense. The latter I added on because although they have only 350 troops as standard, they have been given enlarged shower facilities as well as larger than required galley spaces…meaning in overload they can take over 800 troops, or a full Royal Marines Squadron or a Army Infantry Battalion.

Overall the Bay class are great, but to have been really up to standard, there needed to be more of them.


Cost: £400 million for all four; this included cost of design, and it would have been cheaper per unit cost had all the orriginal 6 considered been bought, going on final cost that would have made to total £528million…which would have made a unit cost of about £88million each, rather than £100million