RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009)

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RFA Cardigan Bay
Career RFA Ensign
Name: Cardigan Bay
Ordered: 19 November 2001
Builder: BAE Systems, Govan, Glasgow
Launched: 9 April 2005
Commissioned: 6 March 2007
Identification: IMO number: 9240782
Status: in active service, as of 2024
General characteristics
Class and type: Bay class landing ship dock
Displacement: 16,160 t (15,905 long tons)
Length: 176.6 m (579 ft 5 in)
Beam: 26.4 m (86 ft 7 in)
Draught: 5.1 m (16 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Wartsila 8L26 engines
2 × Wartsila 12V26 engines
Speed: 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Capacity: 356 troops; 1,200 Linear metres of vehicles (e.g. 32 Challenger 2 MBT's or 150 light trucks); 12 × 40 FEU or 24 × 20 TEU containers, 2 Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP) Mk.5 and 1 Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk 10; two Mexeflote powered rafts
Complement: 59
Armament: • 2 × 30 mm DS30B cannon
• 2 × 7.62mm Mk.44 Miniguns
• 6 × 7.62mm L7 GPMGs
Aircraft carried: Twin spot flight deck with limited facilities to transport and operate Merlin or Chinook helicopters, and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft

RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) is an amphibious assault vessel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.


It was launched at BAE Systems Naval Ships shipyard in Govan, Glasgow on Saturday 9 April 2005.

It had been due to be launched the day before. There was a large invited crowd in the shipyard, and a few hundred people had gathered on the north shore of the River Clyde at Scotstoun. At around 15 minutes to the scheduled launch time four tugs, including Warrior and Shannon, started moving into position for the launch. However the ship manager decided that because of high winds and low water it was not safe to launch the ship, and at around 20 minutes after the scheduled time he decided to call off the launch for that day. There was an unusual north wind, which could have retarded the tide coming up the Firth of Clyde. They did go ahead with the naming ceremony, launching red, white and blue balloons and confetti from high on the ship, but by 2.30pm she was still dry and all the crew off.

They decided to try to launch it again at the next daytime high tide the following day. There was still a wind, but from the east, the river did look significantly higher. Another crowd gathered on the north bank, but smaller than the day before. Four tugs, including Warrior and Battler took up position. A small boat with a large red flag with the word "LAUNCH" on it took position up-river. Just after 2 p.m. the ship slowly slid down the slipway into the river, then she was halted by a large pile of chains behind her. The four tugs surrounded her, ready to take her to the fitting-out basin.


The ship was commissioned on 6 March 2007 in Portland Harbour. Local Sea Cadets assisted, whilst some more from Kent provided an honour guard. Also present was the Commodore of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The band present for the commissioning was The Light Cavalry Band, a regular Army band stationed in Bovington, Dorset.

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