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In his RUSI speech on Monday, the Defence Secretary mentioned plans for a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). TMT is to publish a more detailed report on that speech – but has reproduced a Royal Navy press release on the specific topic of the LCS. A “littoral” ship is one that is intended mainly to operate close to the shore rather than in the open sea. 

It will be noted that the terms used in this release vary from Combat Ship to Assault Ship. This is perhaps key to the UK’s understanding of the use of such ships, which seem to resemble a modern version of a landing ship in layout, rather than a frigate or destroyer as is the case with many other current LCS designs. As such, the name “Assault Ship” seems to be a more accurate description of their intended role. It begs the question, however, as to whether the RN will then have to develop combat ships able to operate close inshore to support the assault ships. 



Commandos of the future could be sent into battle from a new class of assault ships under plans being considered by the Naval Service. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson today announced investment in a concept and development phase for the vessels – called littoral strike ships. It represents part of the Navy’s vision for the future of amphibious warfare, alongside plans for the future of the Royal Marines. These ships would form the backbone of a littoral strike group, a scalable force made up of different elements of the fleet and the future commando force. They would each be forward deployed, permanently away from UK shores, to exert global influence on behalf of the UK government. The work announced by the Secretary of State will now look at how and when the Ministry of Defence could deliver the ships into future service.

Major General Charlie Stickland, Commandant General Royal Marines, said:

“This announcement to accelerate the concept and assessment stages of future littoral strike ships brings us one step closer to realising our ambitions for the future commando force.”

What are littoral strike ships? Littoral strike ships are vessels which can command an assault force from anywhere in the world – carrying everything from helicopters and fast boats to underwater automated vehicles and huge numbers of troops. They are designed to be able to get in close to land – with ‘littoral’ literally meaning the part of the sea which is closest to the shore.

Under plans being looked at by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, these assault ships would be forward deployed permanently away from the UK. They would therefore give the UK government greater options in terms of working with our allies around the world but also allow the flexibility to deal with a crisis anywhere in the world.

The ships would need to be versatile enough to handle a range of different missions in all types of environments, and they would also be able to work as part of a larger strike group. Key to their success are the Royal Marines, remade as the future commando force and enhanced with their own cutting-edge technology – and the ability to be more lethal, agile and far-reaching than ever before.

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