The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
In February 2019, the then Defence Minister, Gavin Williamson, announced the plan to rapidly procure vessels around which two ‘Littoral Strike Groups’ would be formed. Here we look further at the Future Littoral Strike Ship (FLSS) concept and at the design developed by Prevail Partners as one of the potential candidates to meet this requirement.
Since the ministerial announcement, there has been limited further official comment about the FLSS concept, although the previous First Sea Lord was enthusiastic about “refreshing our littoral strike credentials” when speaking at RUSI in May 2019. £35M has been allocated from the MoD’s Transformation Fund for the development of FLSS although, at the time of writing, no commercial company has received a contract for detailed design work. The concept clearly makes sense but information in the public domain is sketchy.
The FLSS has been evolved from an earlier Multi-Role Support Ship (MRSS) pre-concept study undertaken between 2017-2018. Conducted by the MoD’s Naval Design Partnering (NDP) team, the MRSS study was tasked to consider options for replacing the LPDs, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark as well as other amphibious capabilities. The FLSS are intended to be procured quickly to complement the LPDs, rather than replace them. The FLSS is unlikely to fly the White Ensign and may either be operated as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, or more likely run as a government-chartered vessel.
MV Ocean Trader is a merchant ship conversion belonging to the US Military Sea Lift Command and was perhaps the inspiration for the FLSS. Ocean Trader is not painted all-grey and looks like a typical merchant vessel in appearance. Iran also operates the MV Saviz, supposedly a general cargo vessel but in fact used as an offshore surveillance and special forces base, recently operating in the Red Sea probably supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen. At times there are advantages to not advertising the military capabilities of a vessel.