The Future Littoral Strike Ship (FLSS) concept announced earlier in 2019 forms part of the UK government’s efforts to regain its global influence, effectively giving the Royal Navy forward-deployed assets with special forces and Royal Marine commandos onboard that can be maintained at very high readiness in case of emergencies or conflict.
They will be able “to respond at a moment’s notice, bringing the fight from sea to land”, noted then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in a speech announcing the concept at the Royal United Services Institute.
That was echoed by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, who noted that the FLSS would be a “valuable capability” to the Royal Navy and the Future Commando Force, providing range, mass and lethality that can be projected from sea to land. This, he explained, would deliver “decisive military effect anywhere in the world, at a time of our choosing”.
Initial details on the FLSS indicate that the vessels will form part of two Littoral Strike Groups, which will include escorts, support vessels, and helicopters. One of the groups will be based “East of Suez” in the Indo-Pacific region, and one “West of Suez” to support operations in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and the Baltic seas. The former is significant and in principle aims to reverse the decades of British global decline that began with the East of Suez withdrawal in the 1960s.