The first of five new Offshore Patrol Ships being built in Glasgow, HMS Forth, is now underway on her delivery voyage.
FORTH underway on her delivery voyage. A good day for all. pic.twitter.com/acbF0rgAeR
— HMS Forth (@HMS_Forth) February 21, 2018
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.
On the 6th of November 2013 it was announced that the Royal Navy had signed an Agreement in Principle to build a batch of three new OPVs based on the River class design at a fixed price of £348m including spares and support, an additional two Batch 2 vessels were outlined in the Strategic Defence & Security Review in 2015.
The First Sea Lord recently elaborated on the potential uses for the vessels, 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.”