It has been revealed that HMS Clyde will be replaced by one of the new Offshore Patrol Vessels currently under construction in Glasgow.

HMS Clyde was constructed to replace the Castle class patrol vessels for duties around the South Atlantic and the Falkland Islands.

Clyde incorporates an extended length hull, a 30 mm cannon, two miniguns and mountings for five general purpose machine guns. The elongated hull permits a flight deck able to accommodate a Merlin sized helicopter.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015 announced a further purchase of two new Batch 2 River class ships, in addition to the three already ordered.

The three Batch 1 ships without flight decks will be withdrawn in favour of the newer ships.

During a Defence Select Committee in July 2016, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Andrew Jones indicated that the option for a fleet of ‘up to six’ offshore patrol vessels had been reduced to five, with Clyde being replaced by one of the new Batch 2 ships.

The First Sea Lord also elaborated on the potential uses for the Batch 2 ships overseas, including the possibility of forward basing an extra ship at the Falklands Islands, or forward basing it elsewhere. Admiral Sir Philip Jones said:

“Well, you are absolutely right that they have proved enormously useful, flexible and reliable ships. There are four vessels that we have in service at the moment. Three are Tyne, Mersey and Severn, which operate largely in UK waters on fishery protection and offshore tapestry protection, and of course they are increasingly working with the Border Force and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in support of protection of UK waters. Then we have a fourth one, which is permanently based in the South Atlantic.

We have had those ships in service for quite some time now. We are looking at replacing them with slightly larger and more capable ships in due course anyway, so that was already in the course of production to bring three of those in. The additional two will enable us to take a longer term view of how we replace HMS Clyde, which is a slightly larger helicopter-capable version of the OPV. We are looking at a number of ways in which we might use the fifth one.

So, the fourth one is clearly a Clyde replacement.

The fifth one can either be added into the mix for the three that operate in UK waters or it could be forward-deployed somewhere else in the world, or it could become a second vessel operating in the South Atlantic. All those options are available.”

The new ships are different in appearance and capabilities to the Batch 1. Notable differences include their longer hull, higher top speed, Merlin capable flight deck and greatly expanded capacity for accommodating troops.


  1. Some years ago in my first year of sailing in a flat calm sea , towing a friends yacht whose engine had packed in for 10 hours , i was getting very low on fuel. Out of the sea fog at 5am a grey shape appeared and haled us. HMS Orkney. they sent 10 gals over and as we were disoriented in the fog and me not doing navigation they gave us a bearing to steer. I went to night school after that and my coastal skipper. Thanks Royal Navy.

  2. There seems to be a real political issue with increasing hull numbers within the fleet at the moment. Clyde is a good and capable ship and it makes no sense to withdraw her on the basis that she is slightly less capable than the new ones on order. We need more not less, and her existing capabilities would certainly help on fishery protection once Brexit is fully invoked and we need to keep old fisherman Frenchy out of our waters from pinching the cod once territorial seas are reinstated.

  3. Current OPVs have a crew complement of 30 (Clyde 35), Border Force cutters 12. Once you add NI, pensions, liability insurance, shift allowances etc etc it’s probably at least £50K per year for each extra crew member so an extra £0.9M a year to crew one of the old Batch 1 Rivers vs a cutter, not to mention the extra maintenance and fuel on bigger and older ships. Even on a 5 year time horizon it’s more effective to buy some new cutters than lumber the Border Force with some old and inappropriately large ships.

  4. So much claptrap written on here too quickly about this. Settle down people – have you stopped to consider that Clyde in its present design and commercial arrangement might not be considered suitable enough for the Falkland Islands operation? She is being replaced too. FB can bring out the worst as well as the best!!!

    • Exactly, the new ships use Clyde as a basis but with more modern features, I’m sure the Falkland Islanders would appreciate being considered important enough for their full time patrol ship being kept up to date.

  5. in 10 years time the batch 2 will be withdrawn when the MOD decide to buy a proper ocean-going OPV.

    Is there anything to be said for a ‘Holland’ Class?

  6. All old opv’s should definitely be given to border force! As and when lynx helicopters get replaced by wildcat helicopters the opv’s with flight decks should be given a lynx as well! That’ll help with patrolling our waters against smugglers! Gibraltar does definitely need it’s own flotilla to keep the Spanish at bay! It’ll need to match the Guardia Civil armed up though!

  7. I think all too often we fail to make use of equipment which while no longer good enough for front line service is perfectly adequate for other purposes. I agree with the comments already made in terms of HMS Clyde being well suited for UK Border Force. Similarly, a transfer of HMS Ocean to the RFA for hospital and supply duties makes sense to me.

    • That’s true, although we’re not sure if the RFA actually want it, could be quite costly to convert for extra hospital beds and the required conversions to make it more suitable for supply and support rather than helicopter carrier.

  8. We seem to get getting rid of 4 perfectly good, less than 15year old ships just to give the shipyards something to do while they wait for the Type 26s to start…nuts

  9. Very fond memories of the Clyde, well I say fond memories, mostly consists of watching 80% of my platoon throw up for 48 hours, climbing up the side while freezing and soaked through like a modern day pirate with the navy laughing at us and smelling like a damp dog the entire time on there! However a fantastic ships company who looked after us without complaint, well much complaint anyway 😃. Ex Cape Bayonet January 2010.

  10. I live in Gibraltar and had always hoped that one of the old OPV’s might be permanently based here once the new ones are commissioned, though it sounds like this won’t happen now. Such a shame as we really need something more capable than HMS Scimitar and Sabre we have at the moment . Another missed opportunity???

  11. HMS CLYDE doesn’t actually belong to the RN, so it’s not there’s to sell. It is leased to the RN by BAE. The batch 1’s were bought by the RN a couple of years ago. Tens years of working in the South Atlantic is pretty tough on a ship – CLYDE is on no way “new”…


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