The fate of a nearly-new British amphibious support ship, RFA Largs Bay, was all about timing.
Britain commissioned 4 of the 176m long, 16,200t Bay Class LSD amphibious ships to renew a very run-down capability. The new “Alternative Landing Ship Logistic” ships were built from the same base Enforcer template that produced the successful Dutch Rotterdam and Johann de Witt, and the Spanish Galicia Class. Britain ordered 4 of these ALSL/LSD-A ships into its Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and active use began with RFA Largs Bay’s commissioning in 2006. The ships’ combination of large internal spaces, a well deck for fast ship-to-shore offloading, and onboard helicopters make them potent assets in military and civil situations. By 2011, however, Britain’s fiscal situation was so dire that a strategic review marked RFA Largs Bay for decommissioning. The ship had sailed for just a fraction of its 30+ year service life, which was bad timing for Britain.
Others saw the situation as excellent timing. Especially Australia. They won the tender, and then went on to add a combination of leased, bought, and borrowed vessels to fill in for the RAN’s suddenly-unserviceable amphibious fleet. That hasty collection will have to do, until their new Canberra Class LHDs arrive in mid-decade.