Lord West of Spithead has urged the government to retain the about to be replaced Offshore Patrol Vessel fleet.

“My Lords, the Minister makes rather light of the real problem. There is no doubt whatever that all the departments and assets looking after our territorial seas and exclusive economic zone are not being co-ordinated at the moment.

I know that there are plans to move forward, but it is not being done. The intelligence from the NMIC, which was established some five years or so ago, is very good but we are not co-ordinating assets, and we do not have enough assets. However, my question relates to our British Overseas Territories, each of which has territorial seas and exclusive economic zones.

Indeed, we have responsibility for the largest area of ocean of any country in the world. In that circumstance, does it not make sense not to get rid of the offshore patrol vessels, which are relatively new, when the new ones come online, and to use those to look after these vast areas of ocean that at the moment are not being properly protected?” 

Baroness Williams of Trafford responded, incorrectly:

The noble Lord makes a valid point about our offshore patrol vessels—and there are no plans to get rid of them. However, my point, which I hope I was not making lightly, was that the most effective work we can do at the border is intelligence-led work that is successful at pinpointing areas of high risk.

Recently retired HMS Severn is being replaced with a new batch River class offshore patrol vessel after only 14 years of service, all of her sister ships will be too.

New Offshore Patrol Vessels were ordered to fill a gap in orders after the second carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction. Critics, the UK Defence Journal included, have raised concerns that they’re severely overpriced and lack important features, such as a helicopter hangar that other, cheaper vessels of the same type have.

 

The order and construction of the new OPV’s helped sustain hundreds of skilled jobs on the Clyde until the Type 26 build begins, ensuring that the yards remain viable.

The new Offshore Patrol Vessels were also described at a Defence Select Committee meeting a vessels “the Royal Navy does not want or need”.

The vessels will be used by the Royal Navy to undertake various tasks including border protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement.

 

34 COMMENTS

    • ‘got’. Unless you are a North American teenager. Otherwise an excellent point. However … This is the House of Lords and they know how to behave. She will have ‘got’ the message, … Like she’s so busted dude!

        • Does it really matter how people say things
          You know what people say
          Its been proven that as long as words begin and end with the correct letters people will understand the word
          Look at text speak today.That will no doubt be what our langwich will be like in maybe 100 yrs time
          As an example i spelt a word wrongly but i bet you know what i mean

          • This is exactly the point I made yesterday about the retention of these vessels. Am I right in believing the hulls are plastic or reinforced fibreglass, if that is the case, why decommission perfectly serviceable hulls? I guess the MOD doesn’t give a fig about a retired First Sea Lord’s worries, just as they might turn a deaf ear to all the other retired top brass’s concerns.

          • I always try to look past errors & see what is being said & meant.

            But if we’re having “langwich “, can I have pickle on mine?

  1. So are they getting rid of them or not? Yes or no? Simple question, simple answer needed.
    what the RN needs is more hulls, more critical mass. If the river batch 1 are retained then that makes perfect sense. Maybe they should be refitted as motherships for drone mine clearance. Seeing as the RN just retired another 2 minesweepers without replacement.
    this year of the RN we have seen 2 minesweepers go
    the first batch of 3x type 26s ordered at £1.23 billion each (flippin heck that is expensive)
    hms ocean touted for sale after a multi million £ refit intended to keep her in service until 2023
    ever increasing speculation of hms Albion and bulwark being scrapped early and a loss of our amphibious capabilities.
    harpoon anti ship missile given a last minute reprieve when they should have been replaced by Norwegian anti ship missiles until 2030s when Perseus available.
    bit of a mess….
    lets go to 3-4% gdp to defence ratio and sort this out.
    No reply wanted by the Russian known as TH. This site is for uk citizens who have an interest in defence and wish our armed forces well.

  2. An example where joined up thinking is needed.

    Cuts can work if they increase one asset at the expense of another, rather than salami slicing for financial reasons.

    So, why not give up a 600 man infantry battalion to spend that money in 600 sailors? And keep the batch 1 Rivers.

    All very well hoping to keep ships the RN lacks the personnel.

    • Not if it ring fences DFID budget and gives a fortune to the EU each year it’s not.
      They can also find over 100 billion for HS2 and just offered the EU 30 odd billion as part of settling out obligations.
      This is a very rich nation with debt like many other nations, but not an excuse not to fund defence properly.

      • Daniele – Can I gently correct you over HS2? The budget is some £50 Bn but with the usual Treasury contingency it is £56 Bn spread over about 14 years. It is currently actually some 30% UNDER the budget for work done so far.
        http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Rail-News/hs2-preparation-works-ran-200m-under-budget-says-dft-report

        I certainly share your views over the DFID budget. As for the EU I think the PM has actually turned up trumps on the ‘Phase 1’ part as a large part of that £35 Bn (the EU wanted £100 bn) will be spread over 30 years as it is pension obligations. And its less than 3 years of what we pay now….

        • Happy to be corrected Chris, no problem.

          Agree with you re the EU. People forget just how much we hand over to Brussels on a yearly basis which puts the settlement more into perspective.

          This nation has been held back for decades but I pray not for much longer.

  3. OPVs need crews 1/4 to 1/3 the size of a Type 23. Batch 1 Rivers should be retained for UK fisheries. As they come on stream the River 2’s should be considered for a) hurricane season Caribbean duties / drug smuggler interception ( with seasonal RFA helo hanger) b) UK standing patrol/ escort / interception duties c) Mediterranean migrant assistance d) Somali anti piracy duties e) Falklands.
    Such a deployment strategy would increase the availability of frigates and DD for carrier / LPd task forces / refits etc. Forward basing would be the way to go: Gib, Bahrain, Port Stanley..
    Let the Batch 1 Rivers go as the Type 31 enter service.

    • Spot on in my opinion. 1SL has already indicated towards this sort of thing.

      RN needs more personnel if they were kept though.

  4. Better retain useful smaller vessels more suitable to this little island nation than purchasing leaky white elephants which have soaked up the budgetary allocation.

    Further, let’s listen to what Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy says about that biggest white elephant of them all……Trident

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH6xkjMNdnk&feature=youtu.be

    (posted from the depths of the Kremlin……well, according to some posters on this forum)

  5. Disposing of them is a criminal waste of taxpayers money. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re already lining up buyers to sell them off cheap to.

  6. The grammar story above-in modern media forums and in texts grammar is not important as long as the post is intelligible(sp?) but we must keep standards elsewhere to maintain the English language as the World’s premier means of communication. If we allow linguistic anarchy to rule then English would deteriorate into a hotch potch of ugly local dialects.
    TH above_Good Morning. Virtually every large Naval vessel leaks-that is why they have bilge pumps. The seals around the prop shafts are particularly vulnerable. The QE leak will be addressed and is literally a non issue-fake, News from people who know nothing about matters Naval
    Regards
    Geoff

  7. just speculating here, but would it not be an idea to maybe gift one of these older OPV’s to each BOT for them to have responsibility to crew it from their own population under the direction of a RN officer in training for him to gain experience, but it also gives each BOT a sense that they are protecting their own waters. obviously the MOD would still retain the ship but maybe the Owner BOT would pay for the vessels upkeep, with refits and repairs being carried out in the UK, share the burden of the ship across the UK and BOT budget.

  8. It does seem like a no brainer to keep the batch 1 ships, but I do have a problem with someone “stating the bleeding obvious” especially when the Navy was bent over and well and truly f***ed under Lord West’s watch!

  9. We’re going to need them for fishery patrol and coastguard duties. They’re available for peanuts and cheap to run. In other words it should be a no-brainer. That’s why it will never happen.

  10. Assuming no extra money for the MOD, there is a very serious danger is that if the RN’s retains any of HMS Tyne, Mersey or Clyde, the Batch 2 River that was to have replaced her will instead replace one of the 5 Type 23’s without Sonar 2087. The Batch 2 ship would then effectively become a light version of the Type 31e light frigate! I wouldn’t be surprised if it was announced in early 2018 that Clyde will be retained in service for a few more years (2019 to 2022?), but that another T23 has been sold to Chile. For the MOD this has the merit of reduced running costs, smaller crew, and a much higher resale value. And its “just” one old frigate that was going to be decommissioned in a few years anyway…

  11. One argument missed out from the worth of OPVs and keeping the earlier ships, is that of training and experience. if we had 10 of them, that’s 10 Royal Navy officers in charge of a boat, learning to be independent and resourceful and having to make hard choices. Okay they are poorly armed, and limited in what they can do, but they free up the more capable assets from doing some mundane tasks and help give future Royal Navy leaders vital command experience.

  12. Send us a batch one to Gibraltar!
    The Scimitar class patrol boats we have do a good job but a much more imposing presence is required in our waters- especially with our post brexit future in so much doubt…

  13. For a sum of £20 million each the rivers could be retained and refitted. 76mm otomelara gun or BAE 56mm gun as used on US LCS, artisan or similar radar and C2 level systems.
    Norwegian anti ship missile and a telescopic hangar for lynx. Eg make them into small corvettes capable of long range patrols and interdiction tasks around uk hone waters. That will free up a fleet frigate and destroyer. Much more cost effective to send a pair of armed rivers out to escort Russian or Chinese warships through uk waters then a fully fledged destroyer or frigate. This is all about retaining hull numbers and making maximum use of available platforms.

  14. I read in warships ifr recently that retaining the river batch 1s would cost £22 million a year for all 4 vessels and the RN would need an uplift of a mighty 200 sailors. Surely this can be done
    huge benefits to keeping them
    1) gives junior officer a smaller less expensive ship to cut their teeth on before escalating upto billion £ warships like type 45+type 26s
    2) hull numbers= increased availability
    3) strength in depth, freeing up frontline warships from fishery protection and patrolling our EEZ
    4) these are still young vessels with at least another 20 years service in them!
    5) we have one of the largest maritime patrol responsibilities of any nation and also one of the longest coastlines.
    all 5 points make it very clear to me that it would be utter folly to dispose of river batch 1 vessels

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