RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009)

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RFA Cardigan Bay 45154692crop.jpg
RFA Cardigan Bay in the Middle East, August 2012
United Kingdom
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
General characteristics
Class and 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)
  • 2 × Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, 6,000 hp (4.5 MW)
  • 2 × Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, 9,000 hp (6.7 MW)
  • 2 × azimuth thrusters
  • 1 × bow thruster
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
craft carried:
1 LCU or 2 LCVP in well deck; Mexeflote powered rafts
  • 1,150 linear metres of vehicles (up to 24 Challenger 2 tanks or 150 light trucks)
  • Cargo capacity of 200 tons ammunition or 24 TEU containers
Troops: 356 standard, 700 overload
Complement: 60
Aircraft carried: None carried
Aviation facilities: Flight deck can operate helicopters up to Chinook size
RFA Cardigan Bay at La Spezia in 2009

RFA Cardigan Bay is a Bay-class landing ship dock of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). Built by BAE Systems, the ship was dedicated into the RFA at the end of 2006.

Design and construction[edit]

The Bay class was designed as a replacement for the Round Table-class logistics ships operated by the RFA.[2] 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.[2] The main difference with the British ships is the lack of a helicopter hangar.[3] 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.[4] Four ships were ordered; two from Swan Hunter, and two from BAE Systems Naval Ships.[2]

The Bay-class ships have a full load displacement of 16,160 tonnes (15,900 long tons).[2] 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).[2] 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).[2] These are used to drive two steerable azimuth thrusters, with a bow thruster supplementing.[2] 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).[2] 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.[1] The standard ship's company consists of 60 officers and sailors.[2]

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.[2] The cargo capacity is equivalent of 200 tons of ammunition, or 24 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers.[2] During normal conditions, a Bay-class ship can carry 356 soldiers, but this can be almost doubled to 700 in overload conditions.[2] 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.[2][4] The well dock can carry one LCU Mark 10 or two LCVPs, and two Mexeflotes can be suspended from the ship's flanks.[2][4] Two 30-ton cranes are fitted between the superstructure and the flight deck.[2]

Cardigan Bay and sister ship Mounts Bay were ordered from BAE on 19 November 2001.[2] Cardigan Bay was laid down at BAE's shipyard at Govan, Scotland on 13 October 2003.[2] 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.[citation needed] Cardigan Bay was dedicated on 18 December 2006, the third of the class to enter service with the RFA.[2]

Operational history[edit]

Cardigan Bay has been deployed as part of the Royal Navy Response Force Task Group, carrying elements of 40 Commando.[5][6]

In June 2011, the vessel headed to Yemen to aid with the potential evacuation of British citizens affected by the ongoing unrest in Yemen.[7] In July 2011, she docked at Berbera,[8] 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.[9]

In 2013, Cardigan Bay exercised with the COUGAR 13 task group.[10]

While East of Suez, Cardigan Bay participated in several exercises including IMCMEX 2014.[11]

Upon her return to the UK, Cardigan Bay underwent a major refit in Falmouth followed by sea trials and FOST in April 2017 in preparation for deployment later in the year.[12]

By June 2017, Cardigan Bay was back in the Indian Ocean and assisted HMS Monmouth in the rescue of a crewman from the sunken tanker Rama 2.[13]


  1. ^ a b "RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009)". Ship Tracking.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Saunders (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 2008-2009, p. 876
  3. ^ Kemp, New UK landing ship takes to the water
  4. ^ a b c Scott, The Royal Navy's Future Fleet
  5. ^ "Royal Navy Ship Departures". Royal Navy.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ 40 Commando
  7. ^ Press Association, Marines on standby to evacuate Britons in Yemen
  8. ^ "Study shows up to 6 British extremists killed in Somalia". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
  9. ^ Williams, David; Drury, Ian (29 October 2011). "Elite commandos storm lawless Somali war zone to snatch tribal leader".
  10. ^ "RFA Cardigan Bay - Royal Navy".
  11. ^ "HMS Bulwark leads ten-ship task group on Gulf exercise".
  12. ^ Barnicoat, David (9 March 2017). "A&P tender for part of a ten-year, £900 million MoD contract to repair and refit ships". Falmouth Packet. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Royal Navy air crew rescues last survivor of sunken tanker". royalnavy.mod.uk. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.


  • 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.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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.

External links[edit]