The Royal Navy’s Albion class consisted of two ships: HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, ordered in 1996 to replace the obsolete Fearless class.
As one of the oldest navies in the world, even once dominating all seas, the Royal Navy is one of the most powerful in Europe and globally. Currently, the Albion class landing platform docks act as the punch of the Royal Marines ashore by air and by sea, with boats from the landing dock in the belly of the ship and by assault helicopter from the two-spot flight deck.
The Royal Navy’s Albion class consisted of two ships: HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, ordered in 1996 to replace the obsolete Fearless class. Albion was commissioned in 2003 and Bulwark in 2004.
Compared to Fearless class, Albion-class is about 50% larger and more capable. Once completed, the Bulwark has a length of 176 metres, a beam of 28.9 metres and a draught of 7.1 metres. She has a normal displacement of 14,000 tonnes, 19,560 tonnes at full load and 21,000 tonnes when the dock is flooded. The ships have a crew of 325 and can accommodate up to 405 troops, including their vehicles and combat supplies, in overload conditions.
The aft flight deck has two landing spots for aircraft the size of a Chinook, although it has no hangar or aircraft storage facility. Below the flight deck is the dock and vehicle deck. The latter has the capacity to hold thirty-one large trucks and thirty-six smaller vehicles or six Challenger 2 tanks and thirty armoured personnel carriers.
Flooding of the docking area is achieved by ballasting the stern of the ship, allowing the landing craft to float. The dock can hold four Landing Craft Utility MK10, each large enough to carry vehicles up to main battle tank size, which are then launched by flooding of the dock area. The ship also has four LCVP mk5 landing craft from FBM Babcock Marine, each carry thirty-five men or two light trucks are carried on davits, two each side of the ship’s superstructure.
Propulsion is provided by two Wartsila Vasa 16V 32E diesel generators, driving two electric motors, two shafts, and a bow thruster. This is the first diesel electric propulsion system to be used in a Royal Navy surface ship. It reduces the engine room crew by about 66 per cent compared with the preceding Fearless class of ships. The diesel electric system can propel the ships to a maximum speed of 18 knots and have a range of 8,000 miles.
For defence against missile attack, the Albion class LPDs have two 30 mm Goalkeeper CIWSs mounted fore and aft on the superstructure and two 20 mm guns. In 2017, her Goalkeeper mounts removed and replaced by a pair of 20mm Phalanx mounts as part of her refit prior to returning to active service.
The countermeasures suite includes the Outfit DLJ decoys, eight Sea Gnat launchers and BAE Systems DLH offboard decoy. When commissioned, the ships were fitted with two Kelvin Hughes Type 1007-8 I-band radars, for navigation and aircraft control. For air and surface search, a Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Radar Type 996 E/F band radar was fitted. From 2013 on, RT996 will be gradually replaced by the BAE Systems Maritime Services Artisan 3D E/F-band. There is also an ADAWS 2000 combat data system and a UAT/1-4 Electronic support measures system.