RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009)
RFA Cardigan Bay in the Middle East, August 2012
|Name:||RFA Cardigan Bay|
|Ordered:||19 November 2001|
|Builder:||BAE Systems, Govan, Glasgow|
|Laid down:||13 October 2003|
|Launched:||8–9 April 2005|
|In service:||18 December 2006|
|Status:||in active service, as of 2015[update]|
|Class & type:||Bay-class landing ship dock|
|Displacement:||16,160 t (15,905 long tons) full load|
|Length:||579.4 ft (176.6 m)|
|Beam:||86.6 ft (26.4 m)|
|Draught:||19 ft (5.8 m)|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
|Range:||8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|Boats & landing
|1 LCU or 2 LCVP in well deck; Mexeflote powered rafts|
|Troops:||356 standard, 700 overload|
|Aircraft carried:||None carried|
|Aviation facilities:||Flight deck can operate helicopters up to Chinook size|
Design and construction
The Bay class was designed as a replacement for the Round Table-class logistics ships operated by the RFA. The new design was based on the Royal Schelde Enforcer design; a joint project between the Dutch and Spanish resulting in the Rotterdam-class and Galicia-class amphibious warfare ships. The main difference with the British ships is the lack of a helicopter hangar. The ships were originally designated "auxiliary landing ship logistics" or ALSL, but this was changed in 2002 to "landing ship dock (auxiliary)" or LSD(A), better reflecting their operational role. Four ships were ordered; two from Swan Hunter, and two from BAE Systems Naval Ships.
The Bay-class ships have a full load displacement of 16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons). Each is 579.4 feet (176.6 m) long, with a beam of 86.6 feet (26.4 m), and a draught of 19 feet (5.8 m). Propulsion power is provided by two Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, providing 6,000 horsepower (4.5 MW), and two Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, providing 9,000 horsepower (6.7 MW). These are used to drive two steerable azimuth thrusters, with a bow thruster supplementing. Maximum speed is 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph), and the Bay-class ships can achieve a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). For self-defence, Cardigan Bay is armed with two 30 mm DS30B cannons, four Mk.44 miniguns, six 7.62mm L7 GPMGs, and two Phalanx CIWS. The standard ship's company consists of 60 officers and sailors.
As a sealift ship, Cardigan Bay is capable of carrying up to 24 Challenger 2 tanks or 150 light trucks in 1,150 linear metres of space. The cargo capacity is equivalent of 200 tons of ammunition, or 24 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers. During normal conditions, a Bay-class ship can carry 356 soldiers, but this can be almost doubled to 700 in overload conditions. No helicopters are carried on board, but the flight deck is capable of handling helicopters up to the size of Chinooks, as well as Merlin helicopters and Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. The well dock can carry one LCU Mark 10 or two LCVPs, and two Mexeflotes can be suspended from the ship's flanks. Two 30-ton cranes are fitted between the superstructure and the flight deck.
Cardigan Bay and sister ship Mounts Bay were ordered from BAE on 19 November 2001. Cardigan Bay was laid down at BAE's shipyard at Govan, Scotland on 13 October 2003. Plans to launch the ship on 8 April 2005 were frustrated by high winds and unusually low tides; the naming ceremony was carried out that day, and the actual launching took place the next day, with more favourable tide conditions. Cardigan Bay was dedicated on 18 December 2006, the third of the class to enter service with the RFA.
In June 2011, the vessel headed to Yemen to aid with the potential evacuation of British citizens affected by the ongoing unrest in Yemen. In July 2011, she docked at Berbera, and a landing craft from Cardigan Bay landed two BvS 10 Viking armoured vehicles and Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron in Somaliland. They penetrated several miles of "bandit country" to meet up with an important clan chief and take him back to Cardigan Bay for a meeting with MI6 and Foreign Office officials. This was part of Exercise Somaliland Cougar, an operation to train Somali coastguards in anti-piracy techniques and to establish relationships with tribal leaders.
- Saunders (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 2008-2009, p. 876
- Kemp, New UK landing ship takes to the water
- Scott, The Royal Navy's Future Fleet
- 40 Commando
- Press Association, Marines on standby to evacuate Britons in Yemen
- Williams, David; Drury, Ian (29 October 2011). "Elite commandos storm lawless Somali war zone to snatch tribal leader".
- Saunders, Stephen (ed.) (2008). Jane's Fighting Ships 2008-2009. Jane's Fighting Ships (111th ed.). Surrey: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2845-9. OCLC 225431774.
- Journal and news articles
- Kemp, Ian (25 July 2003). "New UK landing ship takes to the water". Jane's Defence Weekly (Jane's Information Group).
- Press Association (7 June 2011). "Marines on standby to evacuate Britons in Yemen". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Scott, Richard (4 September 2003). "The Royal Navy's Future Fleet - Taking Shape". Jane's Defence Weekly (Jane's Information Group).
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