The first ship for 10 years has being launched from the Swan Hunter shipyard on the River Tyne. The Largs Bay is the first of two ships being built by the yard for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The large ships are capable of moving troops, vehicles and equipment, and can also deploy them into battle. The Royal Navy contract is worth £130m, and the landing craft is being seen by many as evidence of a revival of shipbuilding on the Tyne. The superstructure of Largs Bay was built at the company's Teesside, before being brought by sea up to Tyneside.
The Largs Bay is the first ship to be launched from the Wallsend yard since the ferry Pride of the Tyne was lowered into the water by crane in 1993. The new ships, each 16,100 tonnes, are replacements for the Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, which both saw service during the Falkland's conflict. Compared with their predecessors the two ships will carry more than twice as many vehicles and troops. Using their sterns dock for landing craft and flight deck for helicopters, they will be able to offload in rougher weather twice as quickly. The flight deck can accommodate two Merlin or Chinook helicopters, and a hanger could be fitted in future if required.