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Littoral Strike ship: Prevail Partners refines Multi-Role Vessel

By Harry Lye 16 Apr 2021 (Last Updated April 19th, 2021 10:52)

Designed from the base of an FSG 4100 Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) vessel, Prevail Partner’s Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) design formed the catalyst for the UK’s Littoral Strike Ship concept first announced in February 2019. Since then, Prevail has refined the design, developing an extended MRV that would have added refuelling capabilities.

Littoral Strike ship: Prevail Partners refines Multi-Role Vessel
Side view of the Multi-Role Vessel (MRV). Image: Prevail Partners.

At the heart of the design is flexibility at every level; Prevail describes the ship as being able to be used as a hub for special forces and commando operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, as a hospital ship – building on a role 2 medical facility – and as a resupply vessel.

While the base RoRo vessel, the FSG 4100, is built in Germany, Prevail Partners say if the UK ordered MRV vessels more than 50% of the value would be delivered by UK industry through conversion work.

If purchased the company says conversion work could be undertaken at a shipyard chosen by Prevail for efficiency or in the UK for added industrial benefits.

Justin Hedges, Prevail Partner’s founding partner and executive chairman, told Naval Technology that the idea behind the vessel was born out of his time in the Royal Marines and Specialist Military Units (SMU), seeing the need for a flexible vessel.

The latest iteration of the design would extend the vessel by 20m to 230m in length, adding space to carry around 3,600m3of fuel whilst retaining all the above-outlined functions.

The non-extended vessel would carry a deck crane rated for carrying 30-tonne loads or up to 15-tonnes of ammunition.

Describing the platform Hedges said: “The latest iteration would be able to have its 3,600 cubic metres of fuel and give fuel to other ships port and starboard and stern, at the same time it would carry over 600 embarked forces, a battle group worth of vehicles, would have a role two hospital, and carry a command-and-control facility suitable for one-star command at minimum.

“For an air wing, the hangar would be able to carry six Chinooks or Merlin’s, it could carry V-22s and the deck would be the V-22 capable. It would have four take-off and landing spots; two for heavy-lift and two medium-lift.”

Illustration of the MRVs helicopter deck. Image: Prevail Partners.

Unlike the Royal Navy’s Albion-class ships and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Bay-class ships, the MRV design does not feature a well deck, however, this is overcome by the ability to offload up to a 75-ton Main Battle Tank onto a Mexeflote at conditions up to sea state two via the stern ramp.

Launched in this manner, or delivered directly to a port, could be the up to 50 vehicles and stores held by the ship.

The ship can also embark a non-line-of-sight strike capability through the embarkation of a system capable of launching systems like the US-built Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS).

As the ship retains a number of the capabilities of a traditional roll-on roll-off ferry, a missile launching system could be embarked and drive directly onto the top deck ready to launch missiles and support offensive operations launched from the ship.

This capability could be expanded through the embarkation of a containerised ballistic missile system – which Hedges arguably said could be done with the Tomahawk land attack missile.

This flexibility of the vessel is extended into procurement options with Prevail advertising that the MRV could either be purchased as a completed vessel or chartered with the company providing ships and crew at a fixed price.

Under the chartered ‘wet-lease’ the crew provided by Prevail would operate every aspect of the ship except systems that need to be under military control – the civilian crew would also run the ships helicopter deck. The company says the charter model would deliver over 300 operational days at sea a year.

MRV as a dedicated hospital ship. Image: Prevail Partners.

The UK’s new Multi-Role Support Ship requirement

The UK’s ambition to acquire Littoral Strike Ships was first outlined by then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at a Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) speech in 2019.

Recently ships that looked like the Littoral Strike Ship concept were included in a Royal Navy graphic detailing the Future Commando Force which was shown to industry. The Royal Navy Maritime Enterprise Planning Group (MEPG) slideshow covering the Littoral Strike Groups also included several images of the Prevail MRV.

In its recently published Defence Command Paper, the Ministry of Defence detailed plans for new Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS). The description of the ships included in the paper paints a picture of a vessel similar to the capabilities of the MRV – saying the future MRSS will be used ‘to deliver Littoral Strike, including Maritime Special Operations’ in the early 2030s.

This timeline aligns with the out-of-service date of the Albion-class LPDs which are due to be retired in the early 2030s.

Image: Prevail Partners.