What is a Mexeflote


Whilst we are on the subject of the Royal Navy and about to embark on the amphibious, logistics and submarine element some information on how, in an amphibious context, we get from ship to shore.

The preferred option is of course via a port, just dock and drive off but there might not be port facilities available, they might be damaged or one might simply not want to come ashore in an obvious place for tactical reasons.

Apart from helicopters and small boats like the rigid raider, offshore raiding craft, inflatables, combat support boat or small hovercraft the familiar ‘Saving Private Ryan’ style landing craft are the most widely used means of ship to shore transport for men, stores and vehicles.

The UK uses 2 types of landing craft and a floating pontoon called a Mexeflote (a number of older types remain in service but I have not included them here)

Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel LCVP Mk 5

The LCPV Mk5 is carried on davits on the assault ships (HMS Bulwark and Albion) and HMS Ocean, they can carry 35 troops, a couple of light vehicles or 6 tonnes of mixed stores. With a range of 210 nautical miles a top speed of 24 knots they can be also used as a patrol boat. The UK has a total of 12 LCVP Mk5’s, purchased at a cost of £750k each.

LCVP Mk5 Royal Marines Landing Craft
LCVP Mk5 Royal Marines Landing Craft

Landing Craft Utility LCU Mk 10

At a cost of £3million each the LCU Mk10 are a much larger craft designed for transporting men, stores,  armoured vehicles and large plant. They have a roll on roll off design with both a stern and a bow ramp so then can be easily loaded and unloaded in the well deck of the assault ships. Up to 100 troops, a Challenger main battle tank or other heavy vehicles can be carried in the 30m long craft. The LCU Mk10 can be used for general movement of equipment and operate independently for up to a couple of weeks with its 9 man crew out to a range of 600 nautical miles. Interestingly (in light of our recent discussions), the bow ramp can be used to lift an inflatable raiding craft out of the water when operating as a mother ship for raiding parties and such like.

LCU Mk10 Landing Craft
LCU Mk10 Landing Craft


After the assault phase the amphibious force will need to land supplies and vehicles in bulk and the Mexeflote system is an incredibly versatile, used as a powered raft, causeway between vessels , utility platform, jetties or other floating structure . Modular Z Drive propulsion units from Sykes Hyrdromaster provide the motive force when used as a powered raft and although it might not look particularly seaworthy can be used in 1.5m wave conditions. The pontoons come in three types, a bow, centre and stern that can be connected together in a number of configurations as required. The large Maxi-Mexeflote c an carry nearly 2oo tonnes and are normally carried on the Bay Class Landing Ship Dock(Auxiliary). If the Bay class can get close enough to the shore the Mexeflote pontoons can be configured as a causeway so vehicles can drive directly from the ship to shore. Pontoon sections are ingeniously sized to be compatible with ISO container dimensions for ease of transport and handling.






  1. DominicJ says

    Are we sure the author is correct?

  2. admin says

    DOH !

  3. isa says

    what is the difference between mexeflote and causeway

  4. admin says

    A Mexeflote is simply a series of pontoons that can be linked together to form a raft with a couple of propulsion units or, unpowered, used as a floating causeway.

    Welcome to the site by the way

  5. paul g says

    mexiflote doing well in hiati delivering L/R’s off an RFA ship to assist in aid, i backed a 4 tonne box body off the ship onto one of these, 2″ from the edge a real sixpence/half a crown moment!! getting back to landing craft, has anyone seen footage/results of the pascat trials in poole harbour. It is a hybrid landing craft hovercraft thingy! Apparantly it uses a skirt around the bottom to lift it and give it a tonking top speed, the americans are interested but info is scarce

  6. DominicJ says

    Is that one big unit or three smaller ones linked?

  7. David Clarke says

    During my service many moons ago with the RFA the use of Mexeflotes with the ‘Sir’ class LSL’s gave tremendous extension to the vessels capabilities. The accompanying RCT detatchment and ships crew were well versed in operating the kit which could be made ready and launched within a very short time. Oh, I forgot to add, in comparason with what’s available now it was all done very cheaply!

  8. admin says

    Thanks David, welcome to Think Defence

  9. bernster says

    Propulsion units are now a diesel prime mover with a hydraulic drive pump-motor. It still has all the manouverability of the old sykes unit but with twice the power giving an increase in speed & turnaround time between loads. It is now only marginally slower than the LCU Mk10 and can carry 2.5-3 times the amount of vehicles per run.
    The new PACSCAT wil change all that if trials are successful!

  10. admin says

    thanks Bernster for the update, you might be able to tell but I am a bit of a mexeflote fetishist

    An unsung bit vital bit of kit if ever there was one

  11. Phill says

    I was aboard an LPD which trialled the new PACSCAT design towards the back end of last year. It certainly shifts! 35kts was about what it was getting. However disadvantages were that it isn’t exactly tactical, its loud and throws up tonnes of spray! Although it can carry 4 Vikings, its total load is limited to 50tonnes, meaning we would still need LCUs to land Challenger IIs. And it kept shredding the front skirt, apparently at a cost of £50k a time!
    The speed is exactly what we need, but greater lift capacity and more reliability are needed.

  12. Think Defence says

    Hi Paul, welcome to Think Defence

  13. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Phill,

    Very interesting to read your comment, esp. “greater lift capacity and more reliability are needed”

    I take it that the UK hovercrafts that Sweden has for their Marines are bigger than what we use. Has anyone done a comparison: PACSCAT vs. just buying a number of those from Griffon Hoverworks?

  14. Gareth Jones says

    PACSCAT? PAH! Floating amphib tanks? So last century… What you need is a Jet Ski Tank!


  15. LCDR Trevore Gibson says

    Very interesting capability. Australia is currently in the process of bidding for the RFA LARGS BAY (she has Mexeflotes). Does anyone have any idea of their availability (for acquisition) within/from the RN, or how/if we could buy additional units (or how easy they are to build)?

  16. Think Defence says

    Hi Trev, not sure who made them but i think they are relatively old now.

    The propulsion units are made by Sykes Hydromaster


    The name MEXE comes from the Military Engineering Experimental Establishment in Christchurch, Dorset and that was closed in the early seventies I think.

    They were developed by MEXE

  17. Anixtu says

    Mexeflote in British service is operated by 17 Port & Maritime Regiment of the British Army, rather than the RN/RM. The story I heard is that there are no spare Mexeflote elements as all surplus stock was disposed of in the commercial market some years ago, however Disposal Services Authority (DSA) know who they flogged them to and may be willing to point the winning bidder for Largs Bay in the right direction.

    But the concept is not particuliarly complicated and if buying existing Mexeflote parts is not feasible it shouldn’t be too difficult to engineer something new but compatible with the existing lifting arrangments.

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