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.

Daniele Mandelli

It’s been done to death here so many times. Tell you what though, what fine looking ships.

Despite the financial issues with TOBA, I’m a big supporter of these vessels.


Couldn’t agree more.

No need to drop a larger expensive 40mm in there. If it every required it – the Martlet mounts would bolt on to the 30,mm just nicely & be done rather quickly no doubt.

Andy P

I’m a fan of OPV’s too and the Rivers are good looking ships. Personally, the lack of a hanger facility is more of a limit to these vessels than any armament debates.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, good point. I’d also suggest a top notch Sigint fit would not go amiss either, especially if they are to be forward deployed as presence vessels.

Mr Bell

They have enough space to be fitted with a telescopic type hangar. Only problem with that would be the fact they wouldn’t be able to land a Merlin. I think a Merlin wouldn’t ever get onto one of these vessels though as we simply dont have enough merlins and should keep them on the frigates and QE carriers


XD I wish I could see the time that George posted the article so we could have a “Time to 40mm” counter.

Andy P

How things change eh Dern ?? It used to be a 76 mil that the clamour was for. I like the idea of the ‘counter’ though.


But apparently it is OK to talk about upgrading them as long as it is the ‘right’ type of upgrade in your opinion.


Because the idea of a hangar, usually a telescopic one, complements the River role, while the 40mm doesn’t. TBF if we get containerised UAV’s (which Rivers can take without any modification) even the hangar would be too much.


Sorry Andy, but in many ways I agree with Rob. The Batch 2 OPV could have been so much more for the same price. For example the Royal Thai Navy has two modified River class Batch 2 the Krabi class. For a lower price they have a 76mm gun and two 30mm guns as well as mini and or gpmg’s. If the UK Government could have done the same it would also give the RN OPV Batch 2s the ability to carry LMMs. These would have been a much more potent vessels for overseas policing duties even if the LMMs… Read more »

Andy P

Fair play Ron, you’ve taken a lot of time to draft what has been discussed time and again on here about this. Say the UK did get these vessels, that’s gonna be a lot of hardware to maintain and people to do it. It all adds up on what were designed as a relatively simple platform. The relatively large size of these vessels compared to the ones they have replaced gives them a huge advantage already, time on station, the ability to support a helo, the space for extra personnel…. it all adds up to making them much better PATROL… Read more »


Hi Andy P, I am not thinking abot the OPV Batch 2 as a major war vessel, but as a vessel that can take care of itself in any region with the added ability for trans Atlantic duties. If they were built right it would leave our limited FFGs and DDGs for blue water operations. However what gets me really peed off is for Oman we built a very good regional multi purpose combat ship and for the UK we get a pop gun for more money. As for personnel a wepons officer and his/her team is trained to deal… Read more »


The problem is you can’t compare it like that without taking into account the TOBA. The intital cost of the ships was as high as it was not because the ships where so expensive, but because the cost and build time of them was deliberatly inflated by the govt in order to keep the workforce on the Clyde intact for the Type 26 build. The RN at the time was happy to soldier on with the Batch 1’s and really only took on the Batch 2’s as a (civilian) job creation scheme (given how things have gone they’re happy to… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Dern

Dern, I agree with both points that you make. Yet in the points you make you don’t understand my arguement. You say for example that the MoD has a limited ammount of capital, I agree, so with that being the case should we not get the most capable platform for the limited capital. I think you would agree with me and say yes, if that is correct what is the more capable a Batch 2 River class, a Krabi class or a Khareef class ship, all built by BAE all costing about the same the diffrence is in replenishment and… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Ron, you seem to be missing the point. The cost of River B2 = Cost of ship/equipment (built efficiently) + TOBA “subsidy” (less efficient build to support employment/workforce training and BAES financial subsidy to maintain manufacturing capabilities/facilities) When you do comparisons to Krabi and Khareef costs you are ignoring the BAES TOBA “subsidy”. How much is that TOBA “subsidy”? “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. Note that these funds are… Read more »


No, I get your point. But: “I agree, so with that being the case should we not get the most capable platform for the limited capital.” NO I disagree vehemently here. Ruthless prioritization is important. Every bit of upgrade that goes onto a River is money that is not spent somwhere else. Put a 76mm on Rivers? Okay, then what do we cut to afford it? A Type 31? Is that worth it? I do not think so. No, we can not find an extra 400 sailors to fix up the issue. Look at the lengths the RN went to… Read more »


“In return you loose two weeks of endurance.” Annnnd right there is the crux. Rivers are supposed to spend maximum time at sea for minimum maintenance cost. That is their number 1 capability and they are world beaters at it. Every system added reduced the amount of time they can spend at sea, and increases the manning and cost of keeping them out there. You don’t need 76mm to police the falklands, nor do you need them for anti-smuggling operations in the med. As Andy P has said, this gets covered almost every time the words River and OPV get… Read more »

Mr Bell

I do agree in that the River batch 2s could of been brought into service as a Corvette type vessel but that wasnt what they are needed for. We needed a long range, long endurance offshore patrol vessel to safeguard our EEZ. For that role they are perfect. If in the future the RN does decide to go down the Corvette route to add hull numbers to a stretched out order of battle then yes agree use the River batch 2 hull and propulsion as a baseline for a corvette.

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 4 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 »