Royal Marines to get six new ships that can fire LASER weapons as Britain will 'need to win future battles with China'

Royal Marines to get six new ships that can fire LASER weapons as Britain will 'need to win future battles with China'

WATCH: GB News' Mark White covers the future of the Royal Navy

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders


Published: 14/05/2024

- 08:43

Updated: 14/05/2024

- 09:42

'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,' Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said

The Royal Marines are set to receive six new ships which can shoot laser weapons and launch drones as part of a spending push designed to bolster the UK's military capability at sea against threats like China.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced that development has begun on the Multi Role Support Ships (MRSSs), a type of vessel designed to facilitate the Marines' "littoral strike" capability - that is, the ability to rapidly deploy commandos to coastal areas the world over.


A MRSS will host a Chinook hangar, helipads, a drone launching dock and, the MoD hopes, the UK's cutting-edge DragonFire laser beam designed to shoot down hostile drones like those plaguing British vessels in the Red Sea.

Shapps said: "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.

Dragonfire laser/MRSS/Grant Shapps

Shapps's new MRSSs could host the UK's DragonFire laser tech

PA/BMT/UK Government

"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," the Defence Secretary told the Telegraph.

The investment in the versatile vessels is Shapps's first splurge under a multi-billion-pound defence boost announced by Rishi Sunak earlier this year.

The craft are set to replace the ageing and outgoing amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as well as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Lyme Bay, Mounts Bay and Cardigan Bay.

Shapps said: "This is the thing which secures the Commandos' future... The Royal Marines, in decades to come, are secure in their future with the new fleet of ships being built."

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The Defence Secretary pointed to the changing nature of sea warfare in Ukraine, where Russia's Black Sea fleet has been dogged by Ukrainian naval drone attacks since the former's invasion of the latter in 2022.

He said: "Obviously, we are a Blue Sea Navy, we go everywhere around the entire world - but we also know we need to be flexible enough to incorporate the lessons of, for example, the way that the Black Sea fleet has been immobilised, in many cases sunk, without firing torpedoes from conventional large ships.

"These multirole ships will be able to be much more flexible in their approach and allow us to operate at both those levels.

"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."

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Shapps stressed the importance of beefing British military spending to match threats from Russia and China

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When asked how Britain could prepare to wage a war with Russia, Shapps said it was impossible to answer, but remained "the thing that every Defence Secretary stays awake at night thinking about".

He continued: "We've all had this thought in the depths of night because the hardest thing in military strategy is to work out how the next war is going to look... You will, by definition, never get that right."

But the Defence Secretary sounded certain on one type of technology: drones.

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."

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