The Ministry of Defence (UK) placed a £140 million contract for the design and construction of two of a new type of large amphibious landing ships with Swan Hunter (Tyneside), which is expected to create 1,000 shipyard jobs. The 16,160 tonne ships, known as Alternative Landing Ships Logistic (ALSL), will be operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and will be named RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Largs Bay.
They will be built at Swan’s Wallsend yard on the Tyne, with the first entering service in 2004. They will replace the ageing 6,000 tonne Landing Ships Logistic (LSL) RFA Sir Geraint and Sir Percivale, both of which are over 30 years old.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Baroness Symons said “The new ships will be more than twice as capable as their predecessors. They will be able to carry more than twice the number of vehicles, off-load them at sea much more quickly using a stern dock for their landing craft and have purpose-designed assault routes to allow rapid disembarkation of troops.” The new ships will be equipped with steerable electric-powered propulsors and, as a result, will not have traditional rudders. Both these changes are firsts for major MOD vessels. Contracts for two further ships of the class will be placed with BAE Systems Marine at Govan next year, subject to successful contract negotiations.