uk 75

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As is well known the Royal Navy built up a decent force of
new and converted amphibious ships in the 1960s based on the
converted carriers Bulwark and Albion, the two Fearless class LPDs
and the Sir Lancelot class LSTs.

Mention, however, is made in some sources of proposals to build
additional LPDs and also new-build Commando carriers similar in
size to the US Iwo Jima class. A design for this latter is shown
in Brown/Moore "Rebuilding the Royal Navy".

The financial stringencies and manpower shortages of the 60s
made such plans impossible, but it is interesting to note that at
one stage planners were looking at 2 extra LPDs and 3-4 LPHs.
Before I get roughed up, I realise these were only gleams in the eye.

Does anyone out there know any more about 60s amphibious ship
planning? Were any other classes or types of ship looked at?

UK 75
sealordlawrence said:

Where have you seen the references to this expanded fleet, I have just checked my copy of 'Rebuilding the Royal Navy and the only ships in this timeframe that it mentions are the amphibious vessels, are you sure about the commando carriers?

The drawing in question is labeled:

"Commando Ship - Study 4. A 'cheap' ship constructed to merchant standards. Internal volume comparable with USS Iwo Jima."

Of course, the drawing differs very significantly from an American LPH as the lifts are inboard, not deck edge, and are sized precisely for helicopters, not fixed wing aircraft, which makes for exceptional narrow elevators.

It's in Rebuilding the Royal Navy along with the other "Future Fleet Working Party 1966 - Large Ship Studies."
- The following is an extract from a paper I came across on-line presented by Dr. Ian Speller.

Amphibious Renaissance
The Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, 1956-1966

Dr. Ian Speller, King’s College London and the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College

The 1956 Suez Crisis demonstrated the inability of the British armed forces to mount a rapid military response to crises beyond Europe. As a result, the 1957 Defence Review articulated a shift towards smaller, professional forces and greater strategic mobility to meet the demands of limited conflict beyond Europe. Even prior to Suez the Navy had anticipated the requirement and developed a new concept for the Future Role of the Navy. They announced that, in the future, forces devoted to major war would be reduced and resources would be reallocated to limited war tasks. At the center of this new concept was the creation of a task group built around an aircraft carrier and a new ‘commando carrier’ that would be based at Singapore.
The new concept represented a fundamental shift in naval priorities. Prior to 1956 the main emphasis in plans and procurement had been preparation for a major conflict with the Soviet Union. Power projection capabilities in general and amphibious forces in particular had received a low priority. The change did not occur without some opposition. However, despite some initial misgivings, in the years after 1956 the navy embraced their new expeditionary role. Two 20,000 ton aircraft carriers were converted into helicopter equipped ‘commando carriers’ (LPH); the obsolete ships of the Amphibious Warfare Squadron were replaced by the new LPDs HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid and six new Landing Ships, Logistic (LSLs) were built.
Amphibious vessels were only one component of this new expeditionary capability. Aircraft carriers were at the center of the proposed new task force. The Minister of Defence, Duncan Sandys, had begun his defence review with a skeptical attitude towards the value of aircraft carriers. However, the First Sea Lord, Lord Mountbatten had skillfully overcome this opposition by demonstrating their value in support of operations overseas. Unfortunately, gaining and maintaining approval for the replacement of the existing ships would prove more difficult.

The Admiralty developed the case for their new task force. Drawing on assets from all three Services the core of the force was to be an Amphibious Group of three operational ships, based at Singapore. These ships would be supported by four aircraft carriers, of which a maximum of three would be in service at any one time. An amphibious group of this size would be able to land and support a balanced military force of up to brigade group size. It would be able to conduct a tactical landing against a hostile shore or on a friendly coast where reception facilities were absent.

Should Britain be required to maintain a presence east of Suez with no bases except in Australia the Admiralty advocated what was called the Double Stance. This required the maintenance of two amphibious groups supported by a total of six large aircraft carriers in order to guarantee the permanent availability of a brigade sized landing force with appropriate air support. The resulting force, to be called the Joint Services Seaborne Force, would draw on assets from all three services. Needless to say, this would require a significant increase in expenditure on the navy. Unsurprising the key Chiefs of Staff study completed in 1961, British Strategy in the Sixties, ruled out the Double Stance on the grounds of cost. Nevertheless, it did approve the concept of a single amphibious group requiring the deployment of all four major vessels east of Suez. Aircraft carrier strength was limited to one and later two such vessels maintained in commission in theatre.
I expect that any LPH design studies undertaken were in the vein of an eventual replacement for the Light Fleets. They would have been getting rather old by the mid-to-late 70s, so mid-60s would be the time to start thinking about what comes after them, if not doing in-depth studies. If nothing else, it gives the Admiralty Board and the Treasury something concrete to argue about in future planning, rather than a vague notion in the minds of the admirals.
Richard Harding's "The Royal Navy, 1930-2000 contains the following:-

Chapter 9, (I.Speller) Amphibious Operatons, 1945-1998, page 218.

"the Royal Marines provided a means of 'bringing power rapidly to bear in peacetime emergencies or limited hostilities'.
- This was reflected in the so-called 'Autumn Naval Rethink' of 1957. By 1961 Admiralty plans were based upon deploying four aircraft carriers, two commando carriers and two assault ships east of Suez. This was based on the premise that Britain would retain all of its current bases. If this were not to be the case and no bases were available east of suez except in Australia, they advocated what was called the 'double stance'. This provided for the permanent availability of an amphibious task force able to land and support a balanced brigade group, backed up by carrier-borne aircraft and the associated warships andsupply ships. For rotational purposes and in order to guarantee the permanent availability of the force, a total of four commando cariers, four assault ships and six large aircraft carriers would be frequired.
The First Sea Lord, Admiral Caspar John, sought to establish the inter-service credentials of the force, calling it the Joint Services Seaborne Force.

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