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UK to build six game-changing warships for Royal Marines in major warning to Putin and Xi


State-of-the-art warships equipped with laser weapons and drones are set to be deployed by the Royal Marines, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has said as he warned of future conflict with China and Russia.

Up to six high-tech Multi Role Support Ships (MRSS), designed to transport the Royal Marines Commando Force (RMCF) around the world, will go into service, Mr Shapps revealed in advance of an official announcement at the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference at Lancaster House today.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he pledged to invest the cash to ensure Britain was in a position to fight and win future sea battles with China.

He explained: “We’re making these critical investments in shipbuilding to build the future Royal Navy needed to deter our adversaries, and then win if they are not deterred.

“As nations like China and Russia invest heavily in their militaries we must make sure the UK leads our allies so that the West is not left behind.”

Mr Shapps, speaking during a visit to a shipyard in Scotland, explained: “We’re not building a ship that can only ever go and storm the beach and nothing else.

“We’re building a ship that could be as useful offshore, we’re building a ship that could launch drones in the air and on the sea.

“We’re building a ship that could send commandos beneath the sea to their final location.”

The new ships will replace amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, plus RFA Lyme Bay, Mounts Bay and Cardigan Bay, Mr Shapps stressed, predicting it would “secure the Commando’s future”

He added: “The Royal Marines, in decades to come, are secure in their future with the new fleet of ships being built.”

The cost of developing the vessels has not been revealed by the MoD, but Mr Shapps’ remarks follow an announcement by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of £75 billion in new funding which will bring the defence budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the GDP of 2030.

The MRSS are the first piece of kit Mr Shapps has opted to invest in.

They will feature docks for landing craft, a hangar capable of accommodating a Chinook as well as a launch pad for helicopters.

They will be able to launch attack drones and it is also anticipated that they can be fitted with DragonFire, a laser beam capable of shooting down enemy missiles.

DragonFire’s range is classified, but it is a line-of-signt weapon which can be aimed at any visible target at £10 a shot. Mr Shapps last month suggested it could be fast-tracked into service by Ukrainian Forces.

Mr Shapps said: “When I became Defence Secretary, there would have been a very limited number of drones within our entire Armed Forces. Now, in the month, we’re probably producing more than existed in the Armed Forces stock when I became Defence Secretary.

“Laser weapons, but also radio wave denial weapons … technologies like that weren’t even a thing. So there are things you definitely want in your stockpile.

“I don’t think we will ever go wrong by having higher levels of stockpiles.”

A Royal Navy insider said: “The whole point of the MRSS, which we call non-complex warships, is to build an adaptable hull.

“It’s the next iteration of Bay Class because today you need to build ships that have got space in them.

“These will be better than the ships they replace as they will be cheaper to run and have greater adaptability with hangers to take helicopters and landing craft. They will also be more environmentally friendly as they will be designed to use adaptable fuels.”

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