UK may send landing ship RFA Lyme Bay to help Gaza civilians

According to information published by the UK Parliament on December 5, 2023, Secretary of State Grant Shapps detailed the UK's increased military presence in the region, which included deploying a Royal Navy task group to the eastern Mediterranean.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Bay-class landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay. (Picture source: French Gov)

This deployment comprises RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus, three Merlin helicopters, and a company of Royal Marines as a contingency measure. Additionally, HMS Diamond was assigned to provide maritime security in the Red Sea, and HMS Lancaster was already stationed in the Middle East.

Shapps further mentioned that the UK government had started unarmed military surveillance flights to support hostage rescue operations, emphasizing the focus on securing the release of hostages, including British nationals.

He clarified that the surveillance aircraft would be unmanned and have no combat role, being tasked solely with locating hostages. He also highlighted ongoing efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the region, with the Ministry of Defence considering the use of RFA Argus and RFA Lyme Bay to support medical and humanitarian aid provision.

About the LSD

The RFA Lyme Bay is a Bay-class landing ship dock. With a full load displacement of 16,160 tons, it is a vessel, measuring 579.4 feet in length and 86.6 feet in beam, with a draught of 19 feet.

The ship is powered by a combination of Wärtsilä generators and azimuth thrusters, including two 8L26 generators producing 6,000 horsepower each and two 12V26 generators providing 9,000 horsepower each, complemented by a bow thruster. This setup enables the RFA Lyme Bay to reach a speed of 18 knots and a range of 8,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.

In terms of capacity, the ship can carry various landing crafts, such as one LCU or two LCVPs in its well deck, and Mexeflote powered rafts. The vehicle deck can accommodate 1,150 linear meters of vehicles, equating to up to 24 Challenger 2 tanks or 150 light trucks, with an additional cargo capacity of 200 tons for ammunition or 24 TEU containers. It is also designed to carry a significant number of troops, with a standard capacity of 356 and an overload capacity of 700.

The ship's armament includes two DS30B Mk 1 30 mm guns, two Phalanx CIWS, and a mix of 7.62mm Mk.44 Miniguns (which may be replaced by Browning .50 caliber heavy machine guns as of 2023) and 7.62mm L7 GPMGs.

While the RFA Lyme Bay does not routinely carry aircraft, it has the capability to operate helicopters up to the size of a Chinook, thanks to its flight deck and the option to fit a temporary hangar.