HMS Bulwark is the second ship of the Royal Navy’s Albion-class assault ships
HMS Bulwark is one of the United Kingdom’s two amphibious transport docks designed to put Royal Marines ashore by air and by sea. Although launched in 2001, delays caused the delivery date to be put back, and the ship entered service In 28 April 2005. Together with Albion, and other amphibious ships, she provides a larger and more effective amphibious capability than the previous Fearless-class vessels.
Compared to Fearless class, Bulwark 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.
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.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the planned out-of-service date for Bulwark is 2034. However, in October 2017, the BBC’s Newsnight reported that the Ministry of Defence was considering decommissioning Bulwark and Albion as part of a package of cost-cutting measures intended to mitigate the expense of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers. This action was reversed by then Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson in September 2018.