HMS Albion, hull number L14, is an important amphibious transport dock of the Royal Navy, having completed many missions from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.
HMS Albion is an amphibious transport dock of the Royal Navy, the first of the two-ship Albion-class. The Albion-class landing platform dock consists of two vessels, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, ordered in 1996 to replace the ageing Fearless class. Together, their mission is to deliver the punch of the Royal Marines ashore by air and sea.
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Built by BAE Systems Marine in Barrow-in-Furness, Albion was launched in March 2001 by the Princess Royal and was commissioned in 2003. She is the ninth ship to carry the name Albion, an ancient name of Great Britain.
Albion’s primary function is to embark, transport, and deploy and recover troops and their equipment, vehicles and miscellaneous cargo, forming part of an Amphibious Assault Force. The ship is also to act as the afloat command platform for the Commander Amphibious Task Force, which includes operational command of both the naval task group and the land forces while embarked. Major improvements over the existing ships include much more extensive command, control and communications equipment and higher off-load speed due to improved troop handling arrangements.
Compared to Fearless class, Albion is about 50% larger and more capable. Once completed, the Albion has a length of 176 metres, a breadth 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, two Wartsila Vasa 4R 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, Albion had 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.
Most recently, in September 2018 HMS Albion had activities near islands in the South China Sea and angered Beijing. According to REUTERS, Beijing expressed anger after a British Royal Navy warship sailed close to islands illegally claimed by China in the South China Sea, saying Britain was engaged in “provocation” and that it had lodged a strong complaint.
At that time, the Albion was on its way to Ho Chi Minh City, commanded by Colonel Tim Neild, docked at the international port of Ho Chi Minh City on September 3, beginning its four-day goodwill visit to Vietnam. The visit is one of a series of activities to mark the 45th founding anniversary of Vietnam-UK diplomatic ties, and to implement contents of agreements signed between the two countries’ defence ministries, thus helping to strengthen the bilateral friendship and defence cooperation.