UK to buy six new multi-role support ships to replace current amphibious fleet

Six new amphibious warships are to be built for the Royal Marines operations, the Royal Navy revealed.

Royal Navy

The new multi-role support ships (MRSS) will be able to deploy on a wider variety of operations, and designed to carry vehicles, aircraft, insertion craft and a broad range of uncrewed systems for complicated missions.

They will also be able to act as primary casualty receiving ships, providing urgent medical care to British forces wherever they are deployed.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has entered the first, or concept, phase of the MRSS Program and will work with industry as part of early market engagement ahead of developing the vessel design.

In line with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, there will be up to six MRSS built overall, which will replace current capabilities, including the two landing platform docks, three landing ship dock (auxiliaries) and the aviation support ship RFA Argus, in the early 2030s.    

This brings the total number of UK-built ships and submarines in the pipeline to benefit the Royal Navy to up to 28, with Type 26 and Type 31 in Scotland, Astute and Dreadnought submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, and fleet solid support ships in Belfast and Devon.   

“I am delighted, delighted to announce today that I have given a green light for the acquisition of up to six new Multi Role Support Ships. These will replace all of our current amphibious fleet. Providing more flexibility more cutting-edge technology and better support to our amphibious and littoral strike operations,” Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps commented.

“The MRSS programme is an important milestone in our Future Commando Force modernisation programme. And it takes the number of Royal Navy vessels in design, on order or under construction to 28. Which will require a very big expansion in our shipbuilding capacity because I am determined will be built here in the UK.”

“Our commitment to MRSS and up to 28 new ships and subs for our Navy really does cement this as the new Golden Age of British shipbuilding.”

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key, said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State has cemented the future of our Royal Marines by committing to this new class of up to six amphibious vessels. These will be the most capable amphibious warships the nation has ever owned, designed to be fully interchangeable with our closest allies in Europe, and in NATO.”

“Adaptability and flexibility will be central to the Multi Role Support Ship design, as will interoperability with our NATO allies. This announcement is a significant step in the programme bringing these ships into service and modernising the Royal Navy’s littoral strike capability,” MRSS Programme Director, Commander Alex Allen concluded.