HMS Spey has arrived in Portsmouth after construction on the Clyde by BAE Systems and a set of sea trials.

The Royal Navy say that she will continue her generation to warship at HM Naval Base Portsmouth before hoisting the White Ensign for the first time next year.

“After delivery to the base this morning under a Red Ensign, representatives of the Royal Navy, BAE Systems and Defence Equipment and Support gathered in the Wardroom to sign her acceptance contracts and welcome her to her base-port. This marks the end of construction for this batch of five OPVs and allows a Blue Ensign to be raised, denoting a ship in Government service.”

Her first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, said in a news release:

“This is a fantastic day for my Ship’s Company, our friends and families, affiliates and everyone involved in the Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel build project. I would like to extend my thanks to BAE Systems for the determination and hard work they have put into getting us to this important milestone and the continued support they will provide in the coming months.”

It is understood that Spey is expected to be ready for operations by early summer 2021; like her sisters these will be general patrol duties, anti-smuggling taskings and providing humanitarian relief where it’s needed.

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Great stuff, these ships weren’t wanted by the RN but will prove useful. Minimal upgrades and the use of drones will make them excellent force multipliers. The RM’s new doctrine will mean they need various platforms to fulfil their role, including the Rivers 2s.

Bofors 40mm and associated gear would the the only real upgrade needed I believe.

john melling

Another addition to the RN and she will free up the other ships to go elsewhere!
They are worth the money and will be much needed


After an initial bad press, they are certainly coming in to their own now!

Peter S.

Do we know how much these ships in their present minimal weapons fit actually cost to build, ignoring the contracted subsidy to BAE? How much more would it cost to upgrade their firepower without reducing their days at sea capability?

Rob Collinson

It is good to see the final River Batch II finally reach its Home Base. I am impressed with the scale and quality of these upscaled and updated patrol boats.

I know many say that the RN never wanted these and that they were a political purchase only.

But, these are very capable vessels and they are welcome additions to the fleet.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rob Collinson

Good job. Beautiful ships they are. I also want to know the cost ingredients, what is spent for the 5 hulls, and what is added for T26 work-force support for nearly 3 years of delay of T26 build. I agree if RN/MOD was not stupid, they should have had a plan-B for T26, preparing a “more useful” Patrol Vessel design, say 3 Al Khareef-based 100m hulls. Now configured for EEZ patrol, River B2 is enough equipped. More armaments will just increase cost and reduce efficiency. Task definition comes before equipment. One rationale I can propose for “up-arming” River B2 is… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I doubt we’ll ever be able to nail down exactly what premium over cost resulted from TOBA. In any given year the premium/cost inflation is likely to be variable based on how much shipbuilding and support BAES does below the annual agreed amount. “The TOBA, signed in July 2009, provides MOD guarantees to BAE Systems of a minimum level of ship build and support activity of around £230 million/year.” It’s a 15 year agreement that expires in July 2024. So presumably from 2009, QEC and POW modules, B2 and then T26 from 2017 on have contributed to the annual “around… Read more »

Peter S.

Getting more out of this class was mentioned by an RN spokesmen some months ago. The original low weapon fit was widely seen as resulting from fears they might undermine the case for frigates in the eyes of the treasury. With the type 31 contract now in place, such fears may have lessened. And if helicopter operation is going to be a rare occurrence, there would seem to be plenty of space for additional weapons. I am now much more concerned by the proposed weapons fit for type31. It seems crazy to opt for such a large hull but equip… Read more »


Needs more weapons debate.

Depends what we are asking them to do. Fishery protection and anti drugs patrols don’t require ships bristling with weapons (a recce drone would be very handy though). However if we are going to ask the Rivers to escort warships and convoy oil tankers through difficult waters then they absolutely do need up gunning.


At a minimum need a containerized S-100 Schiebel Copter with radar and other attachments (or two) and add martlet to it and the 30mm gun. All complimentary add much wider search area and minimal extra offensive and defensive capability.


I’m more interested to find out how/where these ships will be deployed. Aside from Forth replacing Clyde in The South Atlantic Medway in The West Indies makes sense to fly the flag and access smaller ports in company with a larger RFA that can provide humanitarian relief in the hurricane season. Similarly Trent in The Mediterranean is a good fit to provide an enduring intelligence capability in support of NATO operations. Aside from these 3 where else could a River make a meaningful impact? I’d argue East of Suez the Red Sea and Persian Gulf as too ‘hot’ to deploy… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Piracy is on the rise worldwide and these vessels seem very appropriate for that plus drug running interdiction. So West African waters esp. Gulf of Guinea, East African waters (but not hotspots close to shore around Yemen), Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Malacca and Singapore Straits, etc


With at least 3 deployed overseas it won’t surprise me if one stays in the UK for crews to “work up” on before being sent out to take over their ship. Perhaps a Batch 1 will be similiar enough to negate the need for that, but then again perhaps not. Singapore wouldn’t surprise either me actually. I was having a conversation (I think with Engaging Strategy) on twitter a few weeks back, and it was pointed out that a) any vessel posted, “even” a River would be a signal of commitment to the region, and b) A lot of what… Read more »


Whilst I think the Batch II are a significant improvement over the Batch I, I think they missed the boat (pun intended) by not utilising the rear deck more efficiently. Here in Oz, 12 x 80m Arafura class OPVs are currently under construction to replace the Armadale class PBs, see link below: What I particularly like is that the large flight deck is raised higher and underneath is a full length mission deck, gives twice the useable space available without increasing the length of the ship. The mission deck can store 4-5 containers, which can be raised to the… Read more »


Odd why they removed the helicopter capabilities though 🤔 It’s probably worth mentioning that the Oz vessels are fitted/designed accordingly, to their desired roles (Which is different to the Brits)


They are certainly useful platforms but I think they will spend much of their early years covering for the lack of frigates because we are going to see the Type 23s being paid off quicker than currently proposed is my guess. It is an easy cut for the defence review. A short term saving which also eases crewing difficulties. It is going to be a long time before we have more than 13 frigates if ever.


can they be modified to cut french fishing nets /

Ryan Brewis

I know that the Rivers don’t get much love on this site but compared to many nations our patrol fleet isn’t enough. There was a thing on tv a few days back about fishing grounds or something like that around Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Ascension being nearly 700,000km square. What’s patrolling that? We could easily have three Rivers part of FP in the North Sea, one on FRE, a couple reftting at home, one each in the Falklands and Caribbean, a couple patrolling out in the South Atlantic and another one or two in the Med. Granted, the… Read more »