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Analysis: Will Royal Navy withdraw 2 LPDs HMS Albion & HMS Bulwark from active service?.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the Times on January 5, 2024, recent reports indicate that the Royal Navy may be contemplating the withdrawal of the two Albion class landing platform docks HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Royal Navy's Albion class landing platform dock HMS Albion. (Picture source: Dvids)

These two ships, key components of the Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities, have played vital roles in a range of military operations and exercises. Their decommissioning raises questions about the future of the UK's amphibious assault capabilities and the strategic reasoning behind this move.

HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark are amphibious transport docks, designed to deploy troops, vehicles, and equipment directly onto a hostile shore. They serve as the flagship of the UK's amphibious fleet and are integral to the Royal Navy's ability to project power globally. These ships have been involved in various operations, including humanitarian relief efforts and conflict zones.

The decision to potentially withdraw these ships comes at a time when the Royal Navy is facing a recruitment crisis. The shortage of personnel is a critical factor that affects the Navy's ability to fully staff and operate its vessels. With the decreasing number of sailors, the Navy is reportedly having to make tough choices about which ships to keep operational.

The withdrawal of these ships could be part of a broader strategic shift within the Royal Navy. As warfare evolves and new threats emerge, navies worldwide are reassessing their fleet compositions and capabilities. The Royal Navy might be prioritizing other areas, such as submarine warfare, cyber capabilities, or surface combatants equipped with advanced missile systems.

However, the loss of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark raises concerns about the UK's future amphibious assault capabilities. These ships provide unique capabilities that are not easily replaced. Without them, the Royal Navy's ability to conduct amphibious operations, a key aspect of modern naval warfare, might be significantly diminished.

Technical data

They measure approximately 176 meters in length and 28.9 meters in beam, with a draught of about 7.1 meters. Their standard displacement stands around 14,000 tonnes, increasing to 21,000 tonnes when fully loaded.

Propulsion is provided by two Wärtsilä Vasa 16V 32E diesel generators and two Wärtsilä Vasa 4R 32E diesel generators, offering a combined power output of 19,000 horsepower. This setup allows for a top speed of around 18 knots and a range of roughly 7,000 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots.

The ships are equipped to carry a significant number of troops and vehicles. They have a large vehicle deck and a flight deck capable of operating two large helicopters. A distinctive feature of these vessels is the well dock at the stern, facilitating the launch and recovery of landing craft and vehicles.

Armament on these ships is primarily focused on self-defense, including systems like the 20mm Phalanx CIWS. They are also outfitted with advanced sensor and communication systems for operational coordination and situational awareness.

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