After three years in the Caribbean, RFA Mounts Bay is to be replaced by HMS Medway.

Medway is the second of five Batch 2 River Class vessels ordered for the Royal Navy, she arrived in Portsmouth on the 17th of June 2019.

The Royal Navy say that these ships are designed to carry out maritime security roles in Home waters or globally including; anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrols, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy.

According to the Royal Navy, RFA Mounts Bay was on a long-term mission assisting Britain’s overseas territories in the region, spending roughly one half of the year ready to respond to natural disasters (chiefly hurricanes and tropical storms), the other half working with US law enforcement agencies dedicated to stopping the flow of illegal drugs from South to North America – and the wider world.

“Embarked throughout the relief mission phase of her deployment (May-June onwards until the end of the year) is a mixed military team of Army engineers, Royal Marines, soldiers who operate the Mexeflote powered raft and a Wildcat helicopter flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron. Collectively, they form the ship’s dedicated Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) Troop – over 120 men and women – who work side-by-side with authorities across the Caribbean to explain what help they can offer… and see what facilities are available to them should the worst happen.”

HMS Medway is deploying to the region to conduct maritime security and regional assurance. Her sister, HMS Forth, is now forward deployed to the Falkland Islands.

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Hardly a match I’d say.


No helicopter!


Or anywhere to put the troops and aid for humanitarian missions that’s a fair chunk of what it’s there for


Hi Longtime,
As far as I can tell, hurricane season is pretty much over for the Carribbean judging by the stats. So I would assume RFA Mounts Bay would return home for maintenance. Can someone confirm?
[email protected]


As I recall, this role was traditionally filled by a frigate. The RFA only took over because of the chronic shortage of escorts. Apart from the lack of a helicopter, the OPV is rather closer to a frigate than a hulking great LSD. And it does have room for rather more troops than the average frigate.

andy reeves

its a long time sincethe R.Noperated a west indies guardship before they were all scrapped it was done by a type 42 h.m.s manchester was the last.

Eric burns

Correct she due back to UK end of march early April for a refit

andy reeves

maybe the yanks could help with some of the maintenance


Has room for about 50 soldiers and can host a Merlin for short ops.

Steve P

Seems likely that the OPV does half the year on maritime security operations etc and then the Bay class returns for Hurricane season. Ultimately, however, IF we are to generate two Commando Expeditionary Units as the core of the future force (at alternating readiness) we need to free up an additional Bay for amphibious ops; can’t have one in Gulf and one in Caribbean leaving only one to supply RM.

Daniele Mandelli


This is key. 2 out of 3 LSD’s are tied up with other roles.


I’m hoping this is one reason for the rethink on the FSS requirement.


Precisely why the 4th one should never have been sold. Ridiculous short term money saving measure……..


HMAS Choules has been a life saver for the Australian fire victims. Things have a way of working out. A total rethink of FSS plus Argus is no bad thing.

andy reeves


andy reeves

are you surprised?


Didn’t we not sell a Bay to Australia

andy reeves

yes they renamed it choulles(silly name).

Joseph Todd – a good man, RN and RAN. I think it was very good of the RAN to name the ship after a Chief… Course, if you’ve never been a Chief…

andy reeves

o.p.v? i’m sick of hearing about these floating police west Indian fishermen need to have the holes in nets checking by a multi million pound constabulary boat? i think not an opv in the windies/ no bloody point.


But, if not, you think sending a 1B GBP destroyer to chase the drug smugglers are much better? I do not think so. You can send 10 River B2 (in hull cost) or 6 of them (in crew size) in place. Tier-1 escorts are very much capable and thus expensive, these days.

Modern destroyer/frigates are not similar to those in 1980s. Modern corvette (such as Sgima 10514) is much more the frigate of the 1980s in its costs and capability. It is just that RN ceased to build such vessel, I think.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m all for these ships being used as presence to free up the LSD’s and frigates.

But for counter smuggling and piracy surely reach in the form of a helicopter or UAV is needed.

Without, the capability I assume is limited to mark 1 eyeball, ships radar, and RIBS?


I think anti drug enforcement is shared between the RN, the USN, the USG the RCN and the Dutch. River 2 will be the largest vessel there until the USCG introduce their offsgure patrol cutters which will have a help. At the moment I’m guessing the way it works is that the US or the Canadians provide serial surveillance and with a number of naval patrol ships one is always within RHIB range.


If the plan is to rotate the asset around hurricane season it won’t free up a bay though it’ll just allow it 6months to travel home, go for maintenance, work up/shake down and then kit up to return for the hurricanes. In my opinions we would be better of bring Albion and Bulwark both online and rotate them through the Gulf and RM training. I just don’t see the reasoning behind removing 1 of the most welcomed soft power deployments we have.


Instead of using members of the armed forces for the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) Troop, would it be feasible to employ citizens from the British overseas Caribbean territories to perform this role? They could possibly be RFA employees.


Good idea. Bit like the way that a lot of the employees at Wideawake are from St Helena……


A 36-man crewed River B2 relieving ~100 man crewed Bay class is a big gain in UK Maritime force. Lack of helicopter is a little down-grade, but anyway Paul.P-san says, it is allied operation with USA, France, Netherlands, Canada, and other nations there. Actually, what is lacking in UK is not the shipboarn helicopter, but land-based (cheap, long-range, less maintenance, and efficient) fixed wing aircover. Also agree we shall look for what they will do for the hurricane season. Caribbean ocean is not so far from Britain island, so sending a Bay-class on call can be an option (if prepared… Read more »


Too bad both couldn’t be stationed in the Carib. It would be a good pairing.



Still don’t know what these bloody ships are for? The Italians operate vessels that are somewhat smaller, but have a telescopic hanger that will take an NH90 and are fitted with a 76mm with CIWS ability. How many illegal fishing vessels will Medway intercept!


But who do think its going to use a 76mm against, bit overkill against a speedboat.


As the Tweet says, maritime security and regional assurance. They will make a significant contribution to the allied anti drug effort in the Caribbean and they are well suited to deliver immediate first aid assistance in the hurricane season: they can host 50 RM, can carry 6 x 20 ft stores containers and have a crane to offload them. They also have medical facilities. Very handy first response until larger aid ships arrive; and then, with their crane and helo pad can provide ongoing porterage of aid to remote locations.?


Yes, that’s right Paul….to sum up: this is the new MOD acquisition specification ‘neither fitted for and not with’. Apparently, MOD pencil sharpers are fitted for blades but not with!



andy reeves

they’ll almost certainly bump into the same Spanish fishermen as they do in u.k waters O.P.V in the Caribbean? waste of time.


Yep….drug smugglers pass at 8km distance and at 30 knots….can you stop please!


Scenario 2: Drug smugglers pass at 8km distance and at 30 knots ….can you stop please!…Wildcat looses off some heavy machine gun rounds…can you stop please! Si your excellency!

Scenario 3: Drug smugglers pass at 8km distance and at 30 knots……four rounds of 76mm for and aft and a straddle…can you stop please! Si your excellency!

andy reeves

having bays and rivers in the Caribbean begs the question should we have a base in the region? one place springs to mind, the former ROYAL NAVY base at Ireland island in Bermuda.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Maybe Bermuda is a bit far in order to respond in time to natural disasters. I think that’s why they’re considering Guyana and Montserrat instead

andy reeves

most natural disasters in that part of the world re generally easy to forecast

Levi Goldsteinberg

Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua was also floated but not anywhere near as prevalently as the aforementioned two

Joseph Todd

This is a good idea… Or in port of Spain

Tony Dennis1963

Forth and Medway on long term wigs and Southlant deployments.Montrose permantly in the gulf. What’s happened to the RNs deployments. No fun anymore.
Type 45 mostly alongside for defect propulsion rectification. That leaves a hand full of ageing type 23s to escort the carriers.
Doesn’t sound worthwhile joining up to see the world to me


I think you may find Medway there purely whilst the hurricane season is in abeyance. A larger vessel is currently tasked later this year to provide HADR capabilities.


There is a really great article on Save the Royal Navy about the RN’s role in the Caribbean.