HMS Forth, a Batch 2 River class patrol vessel, set sail on Friday morning for the Falkland Islands to relieve HMS Clyde, a Batch 1 River class patrol vessel.
The Royal Navy say that it will be a number of years before the vessel herself returns, while her crews will rotate between the UK and South Atlantic.
The Batch 2 ships are fundamentally different in appearance and capabilities from the preceding Batch 1. Notable differences include the longer 90.5 metres long hull, a higher top speed of 24 knots, a Merlin-capable flight deck, a greater displacement of around 2,000 tonnes and greatly expanded capacity for accommodating personnel.
— HMS Forth (@HMS_Forth) November 1, 2019
The Batch 2 ships therefore arguably represent a distinctly separate class to the preceding Batch 1 in everything but name.
Forth was commissioned into the Royal Navy in April 2018, following a ceremony at Portsmouth. However in June 2018 it was announced Forth would be entering dry dock for major rectification work likely to take more than three months. The Royal Navy reactivated HMS Tyne to cover planned patrols by Forth, with BAE Systems covering the additional costs.
Anderson Smith, BAE Commercial Director – Naval Ships, said at the time:
“There were a lot of minor defects and we hold our hands up to that the OPV programme was about the regeneration of shipbuilding capability on the Clyde In due course we can look back at it the positives, although it doesn’t feel like it at the minute if I’m looking at it from either a customer or a sales perspective, it found we had some shortfalls in some of our processes. We have now fixed them.”
The vessel is now fully capable of undertaking this deployment.
HMS Forth also recently monitored the Russian warship ‘Vasily Bykov’ through the English Channel and Dover Strait.
We also reported last year that Brazil is to take over HMS Clyde when the Offshore Patrol Vessel leaves Royal Navy service.
Local media have since reported that Rear Admiral Amaury Calheiros Boite confirmed that the Brazilian Navy has been in talks with the Royal Navy and BAE Systems to take over the lease of HMS Clyde when it expires at the end of 2019.
HMS Clyde is part of the Royal Navy’s Fishery Protection Squadron. The Offshore Patrol Vessel was designed and built by BAE Systems and is leased and operated by the Royal Navy, while the company provides maintenance and logistical support to the vessel.