HMS Medway has been handed over from BAE Systems, whose workforce joined the ship’s company on the flight deck to celebrate the milestone, say the Royal Navy.

Medway will be a couple of months behind Forth in going to sea for a second time. She is currently having military systems installed on the Clyde after her successful first spell at sea before Christmas.

After more trials and training, she’s due to sail for Portsmouth in July. In September she’ll have her commissioning on the river Medway. She will also exercise the Freedom of the Borough.

After that there’s front-line training ready for her maiden deployment overseas at the turn of 2019/20.

According to the Royal Navy in a news release, the Batch 2 River-class ships…

  • Are bigger
  • Faster
  • Have a greater range
  • Have a flight deck for a wildcat or Merlin helicopter
  • Have an air search radar capable of seeing more than 90 miles
  • Have a 16 tonne crane to lift supplies ashore on disaster relief missions
  • Have accommodation for up to 51 soldiers or Royal Marines

The Royal Navy say it will not use them primarily for safeguarding fishing stocks in home waters but ‘forward deploy’ around the world.

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Now let’s get the Forth issues sorted out and the rest of the class in service and these ships will be extremely useful additions to the fleet.

Daniele Mandelli

What are the chances of a Merlin ever operating from one?

I know they will be used in constabulary roles, but could they be used in more serious scenarios in support of the ARG or CG if required?
Such as an outer picket type vessel for the Merlin to forward locate to?

If so do they have any spare capacity for extra weapons if needed?

And are these suggestions even feasible. Or suicidal even. This is for our RN chaps.


The US is certainly looking at smaller platforms to work in tandem with the first rate ships as cheap ‘force multipliers’ and as part of their drive for ‘distributed lethality’. I think there is something in this, we cannot afford large numbers of big manned heavily armed platforms. I imagine a QE in 20 years time may well have a number of 500- 1000 tonne autonomous vessels, each heavily specialised. All would have radar and contribute to the battlefield picture and extend the reach as most would operate on the outer edges of the group. A couple could be set… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

And me. As long as they are an addition to what we have, not instead of. Which is my fear on this which I mentioned below.


Certainly no less principle ships than we have now, but there could be an argument against the appeal to build more T26, and build these instead. Rolls Royce are developing the autonomous software and someone like BMT or Babcock could build the base boats at somewhere like appledore. Gun buster – would you know what the smallest an autonomous vessel could be that would be able to keep up with a carrier group, with a decent radar, and a bow sonar & small towed array, or either a main gun or 16 cell vls, all with seakeeping for conditions faced… Read more »


Size of a Leander + 500 ton at a guess.

andy reeves

the sigma 10514 has almost identical size and specs, yet, comes with two tripl asw torpedo launchers,a 76mm oto melara gun, exocet,twi quad anti air missile launchers, is 6 knots faster, but needs 20 more crew. it does show what can be done with a platform of that size.

Ivor Evans

Just look up what a WWII destroyer’s (of roughly the same tonnage) armament and crew were!


For one, you’d have to be a pretty ballsy Merlin crew to dump it down on that flight deck. Rather them than me. I suppose theoretically, it could be used, but we’re more likely to see the Rivers act as a lily-pad, using their aircraft refueling system to sustain missions/patrols. I’m not too sure about extra capacity. You could mount extra 20mm’s to the bridge wings to replicate the Rivers in service with the Brazilian Navy. The software systems on board (CMS-1) would potentially allow a phalanx to be fitted, probably in place of the crane. Of course, it’s a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Lusty.

Lily pad is what I meant. A stop off. As for the rest it’s as I thought. I only asked as the artwork released often shows a Merlin on deck!

I’d have thought some sort of UAV for surveillance much more likely.


A UAV capability would add so much in policing roles. The River B2s have been designed, as I understand it, with space to embark a single 20′ ISO container either side of the crane without encroaching on the flight deck. With something like a Schiebel S-100 able to operate out of a container that space either side of the crane could effectively become FFBNW spaces for drone(s?) to be loaded as required. With space either side then even if there isn’t quite enough breathing room in a single container to carry all the spares and other kit plus leave space… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli


There is hope then.


IMHO Bofors 52mm is the one to go with. USN standard equipment and a healthy bang. 76mm is neither fish nor fowl.

Steve Taylor

It’s more about facilitating helicopters in the EEZ for SAR etc. than fighting.

It was the glaring omission in the B1’s design. Surprising that they replaced Castles, a design driver for which was a flight deck because of the growing importance of the helicopter in the EEZ.

Considering the cost of steel and the design was ready it was silly. I have never found out why they were built that way.

Mr Bell

HI Daniele
Agree with your sentiment in that if these vessels are forward deployed they will need some additional weaponry to safeguard and protect them and their crew.
I would have thought extra GPMG, heavy 12.75mm browning machine guns and some Royal Marines with anti tank and MANPAD missiles would be minimum.
The helicopter flight deck is only viable for shuttle or ferry operations and thus a better solution would be a permanent fit of an armed UAV that is VTOL.

Meirion X

I would agree to up-arm for the Falklands guard ship!

Daniele Mandelli

Yes as long as the Batch 1’s are retained so they can be useful freeing up other vessels.

captain P Wash.

Russian Corvette Steregushchiy Spec.

2100 tons.
27 knots.
1 x 100mm Gun. 2×14.5mm Guns.
1 x Kashtan CIWS.
2 x AK-630M CIWS.
8 x 3M24 Missiles.
2 x 4 330mm Tubes for Anti Sub/Anti Torpedo Torpedoes.
1 x Ka-27 Helicopter.

Just throwing this In as a comparison.

andy reeves

the specs showing the similarities with the sigma 10514 is worth looking at.

Mr Bell

Agree Captain.
Not sure what the RN opposition to a corvette is, they can if armed to the teeth deliver a reasonable full fat warship for not too much cost. The River 2s are under armed.

Daniele Mandelli

Do the Russian vessels deploy over vast distances though?

Like the blue water RN?

And if we go down the Corvette route, which seems attractive, will HMG now see them as the norm, and that means the escort fleet of proper long ranged blue water warships gets reduced further?

I would be happy with a second tier of such ships for the RN as long as that was not the case and they were in addition to current escorts.

Which would mean a bigger budget and more people.

Knowing HMG we know the answer.

captain P Wash.

“Do they deploy over vast distances” ?
Only as far as a tug’s range !!!!

andy reeves

one bonus of’up gunning’ the rivers to corvette makes perfect sense, especially as THEY’RE already BUILT. 9 NEWISH SHIPS FROM CONVERTED RIVERS, GIVEN A SUITABLE WEAPONS ASW makeover ,anti air, containerised towed array, asw torpedoes, base one in gib as a f**k you to the spanish, excellent


The Russian ships are never fully armed, have very limited range and no EMF. Useless for RN use. Poor comparison.

captain P Wash.

Jack, It was more a Comparison of Size and Armament. If you look at what they carry, you’ll see why I “Chucked It In There”. Not arguing anything else.

Some of us just worry about the Lack of Armament per Buck.


If you are talking upgrading I would look at what was achieved with the old Type 12 Frigate in terms of size.
Because today there would be savings of crew and weight of weapons and equipment.
Steel and diesels are cheap so I wonder if the real answer is the Rivers could have an option to be converted into drones in time of full scale war.
You dont want to send sailors into harms way on picket duty, if you are under armed etc.
‘Think out of the container.’


Good Afternoon Gents. Has HMS Forth been accepted back into service?


I’m curious as to where they intend to “forward deployed” them to. Aside from the Falklands guardship, we have a lot of home waters to patrol that are about to be separated from the EU. The Fishery Protection Squadron needs more ships, with the additional benefit of supporting the border force. Sending them to the Gulf or SCS is a misallocation of resources.


One would assume the Med and Caribbean.

HMS Echo is in effect, forward deployed in the Med at the moment. Basing an OPV or two from there would free up the survey ship(s) for their intended roles and lessen the need for destroyers/frigates to enter standalone deployment there. They likely still will, however.

The Caribbean is a natural choice, as they can help support disaster relief, do a bit of flag waving and counter the drug problems.


Bofors have a new, cheaper, lighter 40mm turret that makes little demand on the host ship. You could upgun the Rivers with that, without having to do a major rebuild.
Also Thales has a 40mm CT Jaguar naval mount, that again does not penetrate the deck.

Aaron The Humanist

There seems a desperate drive to have patrol boats armed to the teeth in here. Has a patrol boat ever fired it’s gun in anger in my lifetime, 1970s? Wouldn’t sticking missile platforms on these just be a waste of millions of pounds for their thirty year lifespan never to be used? A GPMG outguns the average sciff and drug trader, so I think a 20mm or 30mm along with miniguns is plenty for mission fit. I agree they were overpriced, considering we built the Shareef class corvette and had the design ready to go we could have had six… Read more »


Well, if you are slightly overgunned, it puts off the other guy from starting a firefight with you. Better they see they have no hope & give in.
I do agree that trying to turn these batch 2 Rivers into fully armed corvettes, would be risky, expensive & soak up skilled people in short supply.
That is why I favour, upgunning them slightly with a 40mm turret. A bit of extra firepower, without going mad.
Those terrorists backed by a state (secretly) have access to heavier weaponry than before. We need to be ready for that.