The first of five new Offshore Patrol Ships being built in Glasgow, HMS Forth, is now underway on her delivery voyage.

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.”


  1. Why is it that the hull plating has so many warps and bulges (see above photo) on British built ships, but the Koreans manage to make them completely smooth? Does anyone have further insight into the manufacturing processes difference?

    • I have mentioned this a few times before – it must also be important for hulls to have a smooth surface to prevent fouling.

      I believe Gunbusters answered my previous query on this with a response that basically means the Korean put more coats or thicker coats of paint on than UK – but I could be wrong.

      • I would be very surprised if the paint made the difference. Paints generally just follow the profile of the surface on to which they are applied. Higher film thicknesses can be achieved on flat surfaces with self levelling epoxies but even these would only average 3mm dft. On vertical surfaces I would think that a high build system might achieve 500 microns-certainly not enough to smoothe the profile

      • I think the real answer is the Koreans have better technology and or work manship.
        They know they are fulfilling an order for a client that has no obligation to accept a sub standard product without having to remedy the defects and in reality exceed expectations to win future orders.
        BAE does not have that problem, as they employ thousands of British workers who are heavily unionised resulting in long delivery schedules and lower acceptance criteria.

        There is no way UK ship yards could have delivered 4 wave class tankers in the same time frame the Koreans did.

    • Frank – in a previous life I used to be Fabricator/Welder ,and despite some curiousity was never involved in the Shipbuilding Industry but saying that here’s my theory – the pronounced lines you see on the Hullform are where the internal frame ribs are located.To these are welded the Outer skin,now this can vary in thickness depending on the spec etc.Im purely guessing the Koreans are using a thicker gauge sheet for the outer hull,plus they have more accurately factored in the shrinkage of the plates due to the heat of the welding,or have been able to more accurately shape the outer plates to the internal frame ribs to enable a smoother appearance.

  2. Every time I look at these ships I compare them to the Holland OPV that was delivered for the same price (maybe slightly less) for the RNN and feel we have been completely shafted for them. It doesn’t help that it looks far better too.

    • should be noted some of the weapons systems are transferred for this class – but still look far better value for what the Irish are ending up with in the end.

  3. At least we’ve got the OPVs. Under the Terms of Business Agreement BAE could have just sat back and waited for the Type 26 orders – and still have been paid by the MoD.

  4. Flipping heck TH has just posted something that makes sense.
    Yes Appledore shipyard is a great facility and their Niamh class opvs are true blue water deep sea patrol vessels. Actually corvette in size.
    An enlarged hull with a medium gun, hangar for a helo and VL SAM system and we would have a type 31 frigate.
    In all seriousness though we do need to keep the batch 1 vessels. We are leaving the EU and need to reassert our EEZ with an adequately sized and capable OPV flotilla.

    • Are the 42m cutters not up to the EEZ job due to insufficient sea keeping capability? What sort of vessels would we be chasing off? I’m wondering whether, if the sea state gets to rough for the cutters, would it also be too rough for the sort of ships we are likely to be intercepting to be doing much in our waters other than survive and we could intercept when conditions improve?

      I’m genuinely asking questions because I don’t know the answers and I am trying to seek justification as to why we need bigger ships with higher maintenance, running and crewing costs since, if the cutters were capable, I wonder whether for the same cost over a 20 year cycle we couldn’t get more vessels out there and better coverage by boosting the 42m cutter fleet rather than encumbering the Border Agency with such expensive-to-run assets. No one is going to be shooting at us are they?

  5. Apparently the 3 River Class + Clyde are also being sold to Brazil…

    Which is ironic because Clyde was denied entrance in Brazil in 2011 lol

  6. Do you have any information on a vessel supposedly purchase from the U.K by the Government of Jamaica? Supposed to be Helicopter capable.. For the Jamaican Defence Force Coast Guard..


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