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RFA Largs Bay limps in
9:08am Wednesday 14th March 2007 in In Port
Surrounded by a posse of tugs the new Royal Fleet Auxiliary Largs Bay, part of the Royal Navy's amphibious strike assault force, was unceremoniously brought into port late on Sunday afternoon when she arrived from Plymouth under tow by the Italian salvage tug Cabo Magno.
The multi-million pound vessel, which entered service less than four months ago, lost engine power and steering after an engine room fire off the Isles of Scilly on March 3, then three days later during storm force 10 winds off the Eddystone, the ship suffered reduced power and restricted steering.
Largs Bay, with 200 Royal Marines embarked, was less than five miles from the lighthouse and in danger when the Queens Harbour Master at Plymouth asked Coastguards the location of the Emergency Towing Vessel.
The tug Anglian Princess sped to the Eddystone to standby the disabled ship, finally escorting her into Plymouth when the weather abated.
MOD mooring and salvage officers chartered in the Italian owned salvage tug Cabo Magno to tow Largs Bay from Plymouth to Falmouth.
Falmouth pilot Captain David Pickston boarded the Largs Bay whilst I boarded the Cabo Magno.
Two miles off the port the tow was stabilised by attaching the tug Remo aft to steer the ship.
The harbour tugs St Piran, Ankorva and Percuil made fast as the tow came in past St Anthony's lighthouse.
With specialists examining the Largs Bay here, her sister vessels Mounts Bay and Cardigan Bay are currently docked at Portland where it is understood the MOD are inspecting both ships for similar faults.
The four Bay Class Large Amphibious Landing Ships are the latest ships in the RFA fleet. Compared to their predecessors, they carry more than twice as many vehicles and embarked troops. Using their stern dock for landing craft and flight deck for helicopters, they are able to offload in rougher weather twice as quickly.
The flight deck can accommodate two Merlin or Chinook helicopters, and the ships can carry an Embarked Military Force of 356 troops and large numbers of vehicles, although this can be increased to 500 using undesignated space.
The ships are able to position themselves dynamically using a bow thruster and their steerable azimuth thrusters to discharge equipment without the need to anchor.
The Bay Class are designed to operate over the horizon using helicopters and landing craft through a floodable stern dock to get men and equipment ashore.