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Guto Bebb, the recently appointed UK Minister for Defence Procurement, visited the Clyde today to announce the formal acceptance of HMS Forth.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said:

“Thanks to the hard work of the Clyde shipyards, HMS Forth is now ready to join the Royal Navy surface fleet and begin the vital task of defending the UK and her interests around the world. Developing the Type 26 capability is also making great strides forward, reflecting the UK’s commitment to this cutting-edge new warship, which will sustain 4,000 jobs in Scotland and right across the UK.”

Contract Signing on HMS Forth, imagery via JOHN LINTON/BAE Systems.

BAE say that HMS Forth will remain at the Scotstoun yard in Glasgow for a short period to complete some additional work requested by the MoD and on departure will be the first ship to leave Glasgow since HMS Duncan in 2013.

Medway, the second of class, was named in October 2017 and is set to depart for sea trials in the first half of this year, while Trent will be formally named in the spring. Tamar and Spey, the last of the River Class OPVs are currently under production at BAE Systems Govan yard.

Iain Stevenson, BAE Systems Naval Ships Managing Director, said:

“It has been a pleasure to welcome the Minister to our facilities today and we were proud to show him around FORTH. She is the first of a very special class of ships that we know will provide the Royal Navy and her crew with the flexibility they need to perform their vital operations.

We are equally proud of the progress we are making on GLASGOW, which is the first of three contracted next generation City Class Type 26 frigates. We are committed to supporting the Royal Navy through the delivery of these ships plus the five River Class OPVs, while we continue to work with our partner Cammell Laird to bid for the Type 31e contract.”

Manufacture of the first Type 26, Glasgow, began in July 2017 and is progressing well with production starting on the second zone of the ship say BAE.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, but I have to say this… what a total and utter waste of money….

    I don’t mind us having to keep to our minimum spend commitments – I do mind us having to accept this type of vessel at hugely inflated prices.

    The Babcock built Irish OPV’s and the Dutch holland class are just far superior in my opinion.

    Someone should be fired for letting this happen…

    • Reading this article and thinking about the shared infrasture, armoured magazine, the top speed, the range and accomodation ( up to 40 RM) of these ships I reckon the River 2s are slated for significant mid life development; they are FFBNW containerised weapons.
      https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/thoughts-batch-2-river-class/
      The RHIBs have their own davits. The crane could launch a range of USVs. The side areas ahead of the deck could hold a containerised camcopter for surveillance and / or containerised Sea Ceptor ( if this ever materialises) ; which can I think be targetted using Terma Scanter radar.
      The Holland class is an interesting benchmark: 20 metres longer and a lot heavier; lower top speed ( River 2 24 knots is enough to keep pace with a carrier task group) and only 21 days endurance versus 35 for the River 2. And the accomodation is for the 76mm crew and the helicopter maintenance rather than for RM.
      I reckon the RN see these R2s having a wartime role as force protection ships, close inshore, clearing mines and launching and recovering RM while seeing off FAC with the 30mm and the miniguns.

        • That article was very educational and confirms the R2’s are considerably more capable than the vessels they are replacing, while offering a level of flexibility for the future which could be a major step forward.
          It’s great to read a well informed article about these ships as opposed to half arsed comments by people who are ignorant of the situation.

      • FAC are about all the 30mm guns could see off. Nil medium gun, nil SAM/AAA, nil CIWS, nil ASMs, nil ASW. Fitting an OTO 76MM would significantly add to it’s military value & survivability, but will it happen when cutting costs comes way before sensible military realities.
        I’d rather have seen them closer to the Omani Khareef class corvettes. If they’re put in harms way in a conflict the crews deserve half a fighting chance of defending themselves. I could see them sold off cheap to other navies in a few years time & then up-armed.

        • Well if they are flexible enough to be up armed at least that is a bonus that can be dictated by the threat scenario when extra money might become available. One thing I have to ask is regarding the criticism over the lack of a hanger. How difficult would it have been to incorporate some form of sliding lightweight structure to at least give the copter and the crew supporting it at least some cover giving potential for retaining it on board for longer periods. Are there any examples of such a design? Or is a fanciful thought.

    • why do we want to retake our fishing grounds? our fisherman heavily use EU country stock and will lose that if we close ours, which would be a net loss to us and also overall finishing adds very little to the economy, so not worth wasting money enforcing it. not to mention a river class is massively over kill for chasing down a finish boat.

      It will be interesting to see what these will be used for, that the not that old batch 1 couldn’t have handled.

  2. This class of vessel must be one of the most under armed and ugly ever to enter service with the Royal Navy as well for a price that is a disgraceful amount all agreed between the MOD and BAE systems.

  3. I agree with the sentiment from most here. I read before – not sure how true – that these were never wanted by the RN and will be sold off later. Time will tell I suppose.

    • I’m sure they were not wanted; RN have tried to make a virtue of necessity. I think will be sold when and if we order a second batch of 5 Type 31.

  4. Why not a 57mm gun and 2 x 20mm guns, give these boats some teeth, even if most people think they are a waste of money.

  5. Ordered because a succession of Labour & Conservative governments over a period of 20 years couldn’t get their act together to order a type 23 replacement. Total sh*t shower, the lot of them. Being the worst of a bunch of morons is hard to pick but I think Osborne is #1.

  6. I think the River’s are destined to be the unloved but essentially valuable ugly sister of the RN.

    They are better than the Holland and Irish OPV (can’t agree with you on this Pacman), rugged, and (as pointed out elsewhere) capable of deploying 21st Centuary kit.

    With the UK they would have a very long life PVP role. If not I suspect many others would see them near military (Chile, Brazil or maybe even Argentina) purchases.

  7. Paul.p above-the thinkdefence article makes excellent reading that certainly addresses much of the criticism voiced by many regarding the Batch 2’s.

    • Yes, sometimes feel like the voice crying in the wilderness. My view is that 6x45s, 8x26s, 5x31s,5 R2 and 3 R1s is quite a well balanced surface fleet for what the RN is tasked to do. Unlike the R2 most of the competitive OPV designs are not robust enough to make a contribution in a war scenario.

        • Lol. I would argue River 2 at 24 knots is adequate for home waters interceptions. With its crane its ideal for Caribbean humanitarian work: with a scan Eagle, 30mm and 2 rhibs its adequate for drug runners and Somali pirates ( RFA supplies helo maintenance) and with its large flight deck adequate for Falklands i.e overall it covers vast swathes of constabulary duties. In wartime the crane can launch and recover mineclearing USVs inshore and R2 can accomodate, insert and recover up to 50 RM. Far from useless I would say.

    • How capable are the RN ASW ships.
      Do we rely on short range lightweight torpedoes and fair-weather, give us a mo to get them airborne, helicopters?

  8. If these boats have proper shared combat architecture, armoured magazine etc. sounds a bit like the classic “fitted for but not with”. If they were also drastically overpriced due to minimum spend requirements, why on earth weren’t they up-gunned to make the price worth paying? I know there’s a limit to what you can do with a hull of a certain size, but there are plenty of bolt-on weapons systems that are more or less plug and play with minimal extra manning and O&M costs. Then they could better take over limited frigate roles for locations like Gibraltar, the Falklands and areas east of Suez, even give more teeth to our home waters defence.

    • Why were they not upgunned? Politics I suspect. A bigger gun plus change the crane for a hanger and the ship is transparently a corvette and since one ‘frigate’ looks much like another to the Treasury the RN would find itself having to rejustify the Type 26 and / or Type 31 program numbers for the umpteenth time.

  9. Paul P.

    I do not dispute anything you have said – all logical and very well thought out – something I think those in power did not do or we wouldn’t have ordered them.

    I really object to the cost of these things for what they are – and they are just really basic horrible craft from my perspective (bit snobbish but there you go). I expect more from something that costs this much and feel BAE have ripped the British taxpayer off on this occasion.

    I am sure they will be great – as the RN seem to be good at making average stuff really good.

    • Seems like I am in a minority, I like the look of them. Think they are good as part of a tiered RN. As with the rest, it’s a thin grey line they hold.

    • Bae didn’t make anybody order these ships. They just pointed out that if the MoD wanted a shipyard ready and capable of building type 26 in a (then) few years time, they’d have to pay to keep the workforce in place.

      Problem wuldn’t have occurred if the Treasury & MoD had their act together to keep a continuous stream of orders. Only an idiot (i.e. Geo Osborne) thinks that a shipyard can be turned on and off like a tap. It was solely his doing that the Cameron government failed to order any major warships for more than a decade.

      • Ron5

        You are right BAE did not force the government – but they certainly took advantage of the situation. They build better products for other countries cheaper than they do for the UK.

        Why only 3 – why not 5 of these – if they can do it for others why not us.

        Yes – its a governance issue and I have acknowledged that, but really these things shouldn’t have been built and it is an indicator of how badly things have gone wrong.

        These should have been T31’s ordered in an orderly manner to the required standard and that is what really peeves me.

      • Absolutely spot on. Governments, of various persuasions, have taken the view that shipbuilding (and other military hardware) is an area where you can take it or leave it as we aren’t fighting WW2 again. The carriers were ordered as political appeasement to Scotland & the Clyde, when there was little money in the pot. The construction of future frigates on the Clyde is again, a political appeasement. The Rivers do have a place in a balanced Royal Navy, but I feel were purchased for political, rather than strategic defence reasons. Keeping skills alive in shipyards is essential, but any government worth its salt would have organised a frigate programme a lot sooner, or at least, not binned off ones still in commission a few years ago.

    • Spot on – on two counts. a) The RN have indeed done well to rescue a ‘situation’ whose root cause was b) poor government – complete absence of warship building strategy ( now largely remedied) – and made a decent fist of things by spending money that had to be spent on giving River 2 a decent systems infrastructure and hull protection. Piss up and brewery come to mind.

  10. If they add a hanger and a bigger gun, then, they will be a useful ship.
    At the moment, apart from in UK waters, what are they for?

    • They can relieve some Frigates from standing tasks in lower threat areas saving the small force of surface escorts the RN has.

      While they are under armed compared to many other cheaper types careful what you add. The idiots in power might see them as Frigates which can do a Frigates job, which they certainly cannot, and say the RN does not need more, which is certainly does.

      I think Paul.P has, on several occasions, usefully described what these could be useful for, in conjunction with RFA’s and UAV’s.

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