The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is investing in a concept and development phase of new UK littoral strike ships for use by the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

In a speech delivered at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson revealed that the new ships will form part of two new littoral strike groups comprising escorts, support vessels and helicopters.

To be funded by the government’s Transformation Fund, the new class of assault ships will be designed to support a range of missions in all types of environments.

Outlining the need for the UK to be ready to handle global threats, Williamson said: “The UK is a global power with truly global interests. And since the new Global Great Game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared to compete for our interests and our values far, far from home.

“Investing now to develop a new Littoral Strike Ship concept. And, if successful, we will look to dramatically accelerate their delivery. These globally deployable, multi-role vessels would be able to conduct a wide range of operations, from crisis support to war-fighting.”

"These globally deployable, multi-role vessels would be able to conduct a wide range of operations, from crisis support to war-fighting."

One of the strike groups will be based to the East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and the other would be deployed to the West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic to enhance the UK’s role in facing global challenges.

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The Royal Navy noted that the proposed creation of UK littoral strike ships is part of its vision for the future of amphibious warfare and plans for the future of the Royal Marines.

Royal Marines commandant general major general Charlie Stickland said: “This announcement to accelerate the concept and assessment stages of future littoral strike ships brings us one step closer to realising our ambitions for the future commando force.”

Littoral strike ships will be capable of commanding an assault force that comprises various components including helicopters, fast boats, underwater automated vehicles, and troops.

They can operate close to the shore. The Royal Navy plans to forward deploy these assault ships permanently away from the UK to work in missions with allies and tackle future challenges.

Williamson added that a Warfighting Division will complement the littoral strike groups. This will ensure the deployment of troops from bases at home and in Germany within a short time.