HMS Medway recently spent time in the Firth of Clyde conducting sea trials.

The vessel is understood to have operated with a mixed civilian/Royal Navy crew under Admiralty Trials Master Capt Graham Baxter.

The ship is the second of five 2,000-tonne River-class 2.0 vessels built for patrol duties in home waters and beyond by BAE Systems on the Clyde.

Throughout the trials package, all onboard systems were put through their paces including the Integrated Platform Management System, which controls and monitors most of the ship’s systems, and the Combat Management System which is used to collate sensor information and assist the command team in the decisions they make when in action.

The Automated Small Calibre Gun, the 30mm cannon on the forecastle, fired rounds at an inflatable target with impressive accuracy and the off-ship fire monitors tested correctly.

Medway is now back in Glasgow undergoing a final period of tweaks, as well as processing and analysing results from the trials before she sails down to her future home of Portsmouth soon, say the MoD.

103 COMMENTS

    • The B1 Rivers have been fantastic ships, the only flaw (Clyde apart) is lack of flight deck. And though that has rectified in the B2 ships I think 2000t hull should have a hangar so a Wildcat can be carried if needed. (Not withstanding a large covered space easily accessible could prove useful at times……….) And perhaps one of those rinky-dinky aft launching ramp for a large RIB wouldn’t have gone a miss. And ice strengthening…… The basic design is sound, but the package is a bit poor. A bit like buying a car and finding your friend bought the comparable model from a rival manufacturer with all the extra toys included for about the same prices……..

      See; https://www.fassmer.de/en/shipbuilding/products/navy-vessels/80m-opv/

      At whom would you be shooting with your 76mm?

      • The Defense Secretary would order 76mm paint ball ammo and have it fired at the next Spanish warship to trespass in Gib waters….

      • It’s a river class patrol not for heavy military duty saying that it’s bigger than the majority of the Russian rust fleet basically a russian navy made up of corvetts

        • That Russian “Rust fleet” is being renewewed & new or rusty, they’re usually comprehensively armed rather than our Rivers token armament. Most other OPVs have 76mm + other more substantial gear. I wonder often if someone in the MOD has the job( & are highly succesfull at it)-of making our servicemen & ships as vulnerable as possible. In a serious conflict any RN ship is a target & should be given basic armament & cointermeasures rather than becoming cannon fodder. If we had a decent sized fleet there might be a little justification, but with such a small cadre left, just a few losses would leave us pressing these opvs into roles they’re not equipped for. Our fleet at the outbreak of WW2 was massive but we immedeately started arming a wide range of merchant vessels to take up various roles.

    • Seriously under armed & no hanger. Someone should find the money to re-equip these ships at the earliest opportunity. Shouldn’t be hard to improve their use 100%.

  1. RGR. Easy answer, prior to hand over from the contractor to the customer. However there is always a lot of cross fertilisation with both ships company and contractors personnel on board at the same time during trials to keep both sides honest, and to learn how things work.
    If you look at the pictures of QE entering Portsmouth in summer 2017, ( I was watching ) the ships company are at procedure Alpha on the flight deck and all the contractors personnel are fallen in, all in white overalls, between the islands.
    And Andy, I disagree with your assessment, I think they will be very useful by freeing up bigger ships for the tasks that are more important. I would certainly like to be on board when one does a six months deployment as West Indies guardship.

    • That’s surely precisely what they were built for. Someone says they couldn’t get out of habour speedily enough to challenge Spanish incursions. I question that. They could hang on a mooring in the roads when an incursion looked probable. Give it a three month trial at least. All being held back by the limp wristed F&CO.
      In my opinion the present arrangements are a Joke.
      Besides a Gibraltar guard ship could range far and wide both in the Mediterranean and out to the Azores, Canaries, etc. It could watch the Russians going in and out of Ceuta or the Med itself. It could be a really fun posting and might do wonders for morale and recruiting.
      Who knows what its applications would be unless one at least tried. At least tried……

  2. What we’re receiving here is five very capable additions to the fleet. With the sensible retention of the three batch one vessels which I believe will be in part manned by the RNR on their respective rivers, the OPV fleet is essentially being doubled.

    The critical thing about these ships and the proposed T31 is that they can be utilised to free up T45 and T26 hulls, and allow them to focus on more pressing tasks – such as protecting the carriers, among others. Utilising a stand-alone T45 on drugs patrol in the Gulf will (hopefully) become a thing of the past. Of course, they perform a wide body of other tasks whilst on deployment, but i think in this instance, it can be acknowledged as a wasted asset. Furthermore, retaining the Batch 1 vessels means that the Batch 2 vessels are increasingly likely to be forward deployed. The Falklands is obviously a given, and we’ll likely see them operate in the Caribbean and Med – particularly with the desire to open a new base in the Caribbean.

    I would discount upgrading the armament for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s an OPV. Whilst the Batch 2 Rivers do have upgraded magazine protection, in a shooting match, a bunch of 76mm shells going off won’t be good. It could also inspire our friends in Westminster to cull the frigate numbers even further. Secondly, I don’t see the point in introducing a new gun calibre into the RN for the sake of five ships. We’d have to procure armaments and specialised maintenance, all for 5 weapon platforms. Thirdly, it would still require each vessel to be taken out of service for extensive rebuilding at the ‘front end’ – right at a time when the RN needs hulls and the UK needs patrol ships. If the T31 utilises it, then maybe it’s something we can consider.

    That said, one can debate the possibilities of upgrading the Rivers further. Drones are the obvious choice, and containerised Sea Ceptor and light Towed Sonar could both act as fantastic force multipliers. Phalanx is something that could be fitted due to the integrated computer systems that the Rivers use, though it’s likely not a necessary upgrade. However, one could argue for the positioning of 20mms on the bridge wings if you want to ‘up gun’ them a little.

    Overall, the Rivers stand to benefit the fleet. Yes, the price blows ones mind, and yes, the quality of the build defects reported was concerning. But lets be honest, the River class and the T31 is the only way we’re going to grow the fleet in the short term. With some specialised funding for the usage of drones and other autonomous platforms, they can definitely be a force multiplier. Lets embrace them and try to make them work for us.

    • “The critical thing about these ships and the proposed T31 is that they can be utilised to free up T45 and T26 hulls, and allow them to focus on more pressing tasks – such as protecting the carriers, among others. Utilising a stand-alone T45 on drugs patrol in the Gulf will (hopefully) become a thing of the past. ”

      Thank you Lusty. Bang on in my opinion.

      In my opinion for these constabulary tasks these B2 might undertake a hanger, heli, UAV, RIB and det of RM are sufficient.

      As we only have 28 HMA2 the heli is probably a no go but a UAV to survey the ocean a possibility?

      T31 needs a bit more of course on top of this, and at least a basic ASW capability.

      • If they were sensibly uparmed as you describe, they could be used as Strike Fleet Tenders.
        This would mean at least guard ship duties and patrolling the anchorage ahead of the arrival of the carrier and running despatches acting as GP dogsbody and waystation for helicopters.
        However for this they would need some semi serious bolt-ons. Oh dear!
        I hope the RN will put serious money into developing and buying bolt on VDSonar and Sea Ceptor; Imho these are things that would add value out of all proportion to their cost.

    • The reason they cost so much was to keep the yard busy , they where built at a slow pace.
      All this was political Gordon Brown wanted to keep the labour vote in Glasgow to see off the SNP challenge, the navy never wanted them .

      • ‘All this was political Gordon Brown wanted to keep the labour vote in Glasgow to see off the SNP challenge’

        If so I don’t think it worked. Mind you the new carriers were said by the Tories to be a bribe to GB’s constituents – they ignored the fact that major construction was across five ship yards in the UK. Now, of course, they bang on about them and what a good idea they were, as if it was theirs. Meanwhile they slash all branches of the forces.

      • It’s more because with a sovereign capability if you don’t use it you loose it. until we get to a steady point in complex warship building, without the balancing the books every year mentality that causes delays, we will always get these fill in orders.

    • ‘Utilising a stand-alone T45 on drugs patrol in the Gulf will (hopefully) become a thing of the past. Of course, they perform a wide body of other tasks whilst on deployment, but i think in this instance, it can be acknowledged as a wasted asset’

      Hell of a waste of a very capable ship.

    • the new sigma corvette th 10514, is almost the same size as a b2 river, yet, comes fitted with a 76mm gun two triple tube torpedo launchers,exocet, two quad missile launchers

  3. Alex any ship acting as guards hip will need to be a fully capable warship. Have you seen the Spanish vessels undertaking incursions into Gibraltar territorial waters? They are Corvettes or light frigates. So either the UK faces up to these ships with capable warships or as some on this website state simply send out a few rubber dinghies to harass the beast and show Spain that we care not what you do, “make a move we dare you Spain” and it will end badly for you.
    Great allies we have there, very reliable, supportive friends. The kind of people UK forces should be asked to fight and die for should the need arise under NATO treaty obligations…. I think not. You reap what you sow Spain.

  4. Thanks Mr Bell.
    Some here have suggested that another idea would be to base 1-2 fully armed Apache helos to Gib. What do you think?
    Absolutely agree with your comments about Spain!
    I’m also beginning to wonder whether, in light the Le Petit Micron’s unhelpful if not downright hostile utterances, we shouldn’t be thinking about pulling out of the two 2010 Anglo-French Lancaster House defence treaties.

    • What would they do? Mob the Spanish vessels by hovering over or in front of them? Fire rockets into the surf? I would not want to be one of the pilots. Sounds dangerous for the helicopter.

      Let the Spanish play their silly games, or play silly games back.

      But do not escalate.

    • land ceptor at the top of the rock, a couple of typhoons and an f 35, maybe even a challenger tank at the border gate. a quick look at the specs for the sigma 10514,(wiki it), shows what can be done to a platform almost identical in size to a b2 river i.e. 76mm oto melara twin triple asw torpedo launchers,two quad anti air missile launchers, add a containerised towed array and designate them corvettes or, light frigates?

      • LOL. Classic.

        CH2 at the border! Fully armed of course. Is its gun facing into Spain or in the air?

  5. There are a couple of newish 40mm mounts that could be fitted to batch 2 Rivers.
    Bofors has just launched a lighter, cheaper 40/70 remote mount, that makes minimum demands on the ship.
    The other is the Thales navalised Jaguar 40mm CT remote mount, that does not make any more demands on the ship than a 20mm Phalanx.

      • True, I only used T31 to mean T23 GP replacement.

        i.e. The 13 x T23s would have been replaced by the 8 x T26 ASW and the 5 x “up armed” River Batch 2s (inc Tamar and Spey). Therefore the RN /had/ to make sure the new Rivers did not look in the faintest way like a frigate or corvette. So no hangar, no main gun, no 3d radar, etc.

        • Also lets not forget they are just OPVs. Our ancestors never put 15″ guns on destroyers and we shouldn’t “up gun” the OPV fleet. They should be the lower end of a balanced fleet. I understand the desire to “up gun” but right now that sort of thinking should be saved for the type 31.

        • No. Another T26 or something like the Hollands. They could build 3 cheap frigates for the budget but it isn’t worth it. I think the Danish design will be too expensive and the stretched corvette not enough ship. Alternatively they could be more specific with the requirement and tailor a capability to fit. Say they are going to concentrate on the Gulf and the Gulf alone. Personally I see a bodge up. We will end up with 3 under armed somethings which are neither use nor ornament…….

  6. I’ve just looked at the Wikipedia entry that Simon highlighted. Those Spanish ships are 2,800 tons, or very nearly the same size as 1960’s/1970’s Leander frigate. And there was a lot more bang for the tonnage with one of them. I seem to remember 550 rounds of HE in the shell room, plus chaff and star shell, plus everything else. Good ships.

  7. Good to hear. Anyone have news on HMS Forth? Post Brexit we will likely keep the Batch 1 Rivers as UK fisheries vessels while the the River 2s will helo lilypad capability will be forward deployed for constabulary work in the Falklands, the Caribbean and off Somalia and as UK fleet response. This will free the T31 for forward deployed ‘diplomatic’ assignments and T26 for task force / ASW duties. Global Britain here we come 🙂

      • Thanks for that Lusty-that was to be my next question. As you know Forth was Commissioned into service in April last year and a few weeks later at the beginning of May taken back by Bae for rectification works which were to take approximately three months. Ten months later and she has still not returned to service. Btw-agree they are great little ships that will free up top end assets for use elsewhere-never made sense to have a T45 chasing dhows off Somalia or nabbing bags of Cocaine in the Caribbean

  8. I think so ppl are getting mixed up with petrol boats and heavy duty fighting ships it’s a patrol boat and a very good one .

  9. Does anyone know what’s going on with the T31 tender? All gone very quiet. Would be nice to see some outlines of what the Atlas Electronic offering might include, can’t find anything on the net.

    • A decision soon on who got the contract . But the facts are Russia doesn’t have a blue water fleet to threaten us . But still let’s get a decision on the T31 and start the building

      • And we won’t have any top end escorts to defend against what they do have and their subs as they are all trotting off as singletons around the world flag waving, catching pirates drug smugglers, and carrying out “Maritime Security Duties”

        Hence the potential usefulness of the T31.

        Ignoring the fact it has been born from the sheer costs of the T26 but that is typical of British built equipment, is it not?

        These Rivers a case in point.

    • the M.O.D are playing the usual smoke and mirrors game, remember the t26 specs and delay to actually start building? this looks like being the same kind of fiasco. i wonder how far the estimated build cost has changed since the competition tender was put out.

  10. There are a lot of weapon upgrades that could be introduced rapidly in an emergency. Javelin, Starstreak, etc. These OPVs are fine for what they are meant to do. In a full-on war, they would (doubtless) be kept well out of the way – mobile refueling stations for helos only.

    • So, In the event of War, when we actually need Ships, These R1’s and R2’s will be Withdrawn from harms way.
      Great, Good job we still have a few actual Warships left then !

      Was It 1400 RN Ships in 1939 ?

      • Just who are we going to go to war with?
        China? Russia? Who else? And just who are we going to ally with? Last time I looked we were part of NATO. An obvious region we have an interest in is The Falklands, but it is defended by aircraft and a nuclear powered submarine.

        The greatest weapon we have is Intelligence.

    • Interesting. Sentinal would be more suited to Gibraltar than a River 2, but still has a crew requirement of 20 versus the Scimitars 7. Something Austal sized, fast with a small cannon and a crew requirement of a dozen might be more affordable for the RN, and appropriate….just not in aluminium….or is that aluminum?

    • Unmanned anything just means the men needed to look after it are somewhere else in the support chain.

      Policing requires wetware at the crisis point warfare doesn’t…….

  11. True, but I was thinking more along the lines of Channel surveillance with unmanned systems to alert the manned vessels to respond. What I think the Gib squadron needs would be about the size of the USCG Fast Response Cutter discussed above in addition to small patrol craft. The FRC would be big enough to deal with situations involving Spanish warships or to respond in the Straits to other mssions.

    Cheers!

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