HMS Medway has set sail to take on the Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North) tasking, say the Royal Navy.

The vessel is being forward-deployed to Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North), a mission which focuses on providing reassurance to Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, disrupting the flow of smuggled narcotics and supporting humanitarian relief efforts.

HMS Medway is relieving RFA Mounts Bay, a ship designed for amphibious landing operations which has been on patrol for nearly three years.

“HMS Medway is the second of the new River class vessels to depart for this type of patrol task; her sister ship HMS Forth arrived in the Falkland Islands earlier this month to take up station there.

While the OPVs will remain on task, members of the ship’s company will spend 10 weeks on the ship and then four weeks off in rotation. Because the ship’s company is greater than the crew required to take her to sea, personnel can take leave, complete promotion courses and undertake training while ensuring the ship remains on station.”

HMS Medway’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Power, said in a news release:

“It has taken an extraordinary effort to get Medway ready to deploy. Since leaving Scotstoun in June last year we have conducted the fastest generation of a surface ship in recent memory – this has only been possible due to the commitment, loyalty, grit and hard work of my superb ship’s company. I am indebted to them and their families.”

By forward-deploying the newest patrol ships in the Fleet in this way, the Royal Navy say it will be able to retain its more complex and capable vessels for high-end tasks such as escort duties for capital ships and anti-submarine operations.

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Levi Goldsteinberg

So she’s forward deployed presumably in the same place RFA Mounts Bay has been – does anyone know where the RN base their ships in the Caribbean?

Reminds me of last year when Williamson proposed a purpose built RN base over there in Guyana or Montserrat for this precise mission – according to those I know in the know that is still on the cards


I don’t really understand how she can fulfil those roles properly without a helicopter. Combating drug smuggling and piracy requires speed, usually supplied by the helo.

These ships should be extended and a hangar added to carry wildcat.


Hi Rob. They can deploy a helicopter up to the size of a Merlin for short periods on the existing deck. Might be possible for it to commute from a shore facility in the immediate term. I should imagine a hangar conversion would be expensive and risk over capitalising on these vessels. Other options would be some kind of short term on deck cover and perhaps a drone similar to the one the Americans used in Iraq recently!!

Daniele Mandelli

As Paul P explained to me when I raised that limitation, they work in that role in conjunction with the US Coast Guard.


Drug smuggling patrols is an allied operation run by the US. There are patrol ships from the USCG, USN, RCN, Dutch navy and local Caribbean nations. Persistent air surveillance is provided by the US or Canada. The patrol ships are positioned to be able to intercept smugglers using RHIBs. Medway will in fact be the largest of the patrol ships and the only one capable of landing a helo until the USCG introduce their Offshore patrol class OPVs which will be able to carry a helo.

Daniele Mandelli

Ta Daaaa!


Teamwork LOL


which honestly makes the river class redundant.

If they have to operate within range of US assets, it seriously limits their ability to protect UK interests.

having to rely on US assets to ensure our ships are able to do their activity around UK zones is fudging things beyond belief.


No it doesn’t what about when there in local waters there perfect for what they do.


I think my problem with it is that we are sending a military spec ship in regards to armour etc to do a police role. A clipper at a fraction of the price with a police helicopter could do the role just as well. Especially as i wonder if there are any wildcats/Merlin’s in the region, considering the low numbers.


Why you think River B2 is military spec? I understand she is OPV spec. Not merchant vessel, but not escort standard, as well.

I think it just fits the role, nicely.


I believe all the Batch 2 Rivers are Merlin capable, they just don’t have a dedicated airframe on board. Of the Batch 1s, only HMS Clyde is/was helicopter capable.


Interesting to see she is carrying a couple of 20ft containers. I wonder what’s in them.


I hadn’t noticed them – note to self look more closely at the piccies!

As for what in them I sense a fun game coming on – guess the goodies, me first!

Spares. She’s away for 3 years so at least some spare / consumables would make sense.

It would also be nice to think there was at least a small UAV in there. One suitable for over watch of boarding operations and damage assessment after natural disasters. Even a basic civilian system with a camera mounted on it would be useful for those missions.




🙂 BAES are never going to live that down 🙂


The RN already practises UAV launch and recovery from batch 1 Rivers so a containerised UAV looks like a good bet.


Thanks Paul, interesting. 700X seems to be doing some good stuff with UAV’s in the RN.


Probably one is storing ammunition and weapons for embarked Marines if shes expecting a lot of low level interdiction of smugglers.


On reflection those 20ft containers give a good reference for judging the size of the batch 2’s and that is a big flight deck.

Plenty of room for a hangar if you forgo the crane and space for the containers, but I guess you lose the flexibility and the containers offer…

They’re not small are they? With 24 knots speed and 5,500 nm range they are capable assets, hangar or no hangar.


Checkout twitter, I don’t have an account, you can see photos of Puma UAV being launched from HMS Mersey.