HMS Medway has paid her first visit to the Rock, say the Royal Navy.

The second of the UK’s five new River-class patrol vessels left Portsmouth at the beginning of last week to take up permanent station in the Caribbean as part of the Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative – basing ships long-term around the globe and rotating crews every few weeks, rather than bringing the vessels back to the UK every six or so months.

According to a news release:

“In Medway’s case, the mission is Atlantic Patrol Ship (North), a task performed admirably and expertly by RFA Mounts Bay for the past three years: humanitarian aid in the event of hurricanes, supporting the international fight against drug trafficking and reassuring citizens of British territories peppered around the North Atlantic/Caribbean that the mother country is there for them. The first of those British citizens to receive that reassurance will be the inhabitants of Bermuda (pop. 71,176) after a 3,350-mile journey across the Atlantic.

Medway took on final supplies and fuel for that passage in Gib, then gave her sailors the chance to explore Britain’s Mediterranean territory with sights such as the top of the Rock and visits to the Donkey’s Flipflop. The ship used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training with a Wildcat from 815 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton, flashed up her main 30mm cannon with a spot of gunnery funnery, and hosted her first bingo night – comprehensively won by the weapon engineering department.”

HMS Medway’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Power, said in another 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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Some ten years plus ago I answered a MOD questionnaire on suggestions for defence Policy going forward. I offered 3 things-don’t cancel the QE Carrier project and make the same mistakes as previous governments who spent millions on new projects and then cancelled with nothing to show for it, construct more OPV type ships to show the flag and police our interests in the Med, Caribbean and elsewhere and free up expensive assets from having to chase pirates and smugglers, and expand and fund the TA or Army reserves as they are now known to fill in the gaps created… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Good morning. We are about to find out to what extent an unaccountable and unelected individual with no specialst knowledge on many issues, but nevertheless the egomania to ride roughshod over all of them, has on government policy.


Hi Gavin,

There is a good overview of the up coming defence review on Safe the Royal Navy. Starts off positively enough, but then spends quite a bit of screen space on the risks to the RN…


You’re referring to Jezza I believe? Thankfully the scruffy antisemite lost the election and will soon be dumped by the Loser Party too, so I doubt he’ll have any impact at all on government policy. 😄

Gavin Gordon

No, Dominic Cummings, Sean


Ah spot the sore loser, still Remoaning I see…

SPAD aren’t elected, they are appointed by our elected politicians. But whereas you have to wait 5 years to sack a politician, a SPAD can be sacked anytime. As such he has only the power; the clue is in the title ‘advisor’, that is assigned by the politicians- usually very little.
You also clearly don’t follow his blog otherwise you’d know he’s a big fan of Colonel John Boyd – I assume I don’t need to explain to you who he was…?


Look at the power Alistair Campbell had…

Gavin Gordon

‘fraid your spotting abilities are way off, Sean. As is your ability to interpret outside of a narrow perspective, evidently. Have a nice day.


Just because Dominic Cummings is a fan of Colonel John Boyd and no doubt OODA Loop theory does not mean he has the right skills and background knowledge to make a valuable contribution to a defence review. OODA loop theory will crop up on any basic business development course and hardly something to dance about celebrating especially as within military thinking circles there are plenty of critics of this theory. For OODA to actually work in a military setting requires a number of surrounding concepts to be understood and applied along with certain contributing factors. Just name dropping John Boyd… Read more »

Steve R

Not in favour of conscription; half the reason our soldiers, sailors and airmen are so good at what they do is because they want to do it. Forcing anyone to join up just creates half-arsed service personnel who largely will put minimum effort in and be counting the days until they can leave. Problem is that reserves do not an army make. They are great for bolstering numbers when needed but we need to make the army more attractive as a career option, and get kids putting thought into it. Recruitment should be taken from Capita and put back in… Read more »


Spot on mate, exactly right.


In year 10 in 2003 and we had an army presentation in the hall, there were a few desks set up, and we walked up to these big fellas behind one of the desks and said something like which is the best one to go with then if we were to join, the biggest guy leaned over and looked over to other desk (I can never remember what the other desk was might of been RA) looked back at us and said “look at those fannies and look at us, you join any you join us, infantry” Will never forget… Read more »


Morning Steve. On balance I sort of agree with you regarding conscription although it must be said that in countries that face/faced ongoing threats, conscription produced very capable armed forces.In the case of Israel and South Africa for example, Defence Forces were/are composed almost entirely of conscripts.Wanting to be in the army does not necessarily mean suitability for the Army. What really surprises me is the fact that the UK with a long and proud Military tradition has struggled to find 30 000 Army reservists out of a population of 60 million!


“What really surprises me is the fact that the UK with a long and proud Military tradition has struggled to find 30 000 Army reservists out of a population of 60 million!”

Why are you surprised when all the forces are shit on when they’re in, then shit on again when they leave, where’s the incentive to be a reserve if you can see that happening to the ‘full timers’.

andy reeves

retention would be better if the derelict crime rising conditions in the married quarters which are suffering real neglect, imagine coming home after a deployment to be greeted at the door by your cherub, who passes you a ‘to do’ list because theres no help available, service families are treated as second class citizens and see homes on the estates going to immigrants whose bills are born by the defence budget.


Which reminds me; anyone know when can we expect Wildcat to have its Martlet and Sea Venom missiles?


I understand, Martlet are due to enter service on Wildcat with the RN in 2020.
Not sure when it will be in full operating capability (STRN Feb 4 2019 page says, “2024”).

andy reeves

i see the Thai navy is looking to fit martlet onto the two extra 30 mm cannon on the areas aft of the bridge wings on their batch 2 river, hmts krabi. it already has had a 76 mm otto melara rapid fire gun fitted they also intend to fit harpoon to the ship. shame we won’t do it with ours and designate them corvettes


A 76mm OTO is vastly more capable & intimidating in the police/anti-piracy role, as well as making the ships more survivable. Between the treasury & MOD there seems to be a fetish to give out people the least kit possible & sometimes less than that.


There is a political dimension. Do you go for the 57mm and rely on the US for ammunition and spares or go for the European option with the 76mm? Which would you put on T45 when we replace the Mk45? Which is cheaper to own over a lifetime? Are we stuck with Mk45 because Brazil use it? The T31 weapons fit will decide things.


Whoops, sorry for Mk45 read Mk8 4.5in


That should be “our” people, not, “out”. I wouldn’t go for the 57mm for any escorts as it’s too small for anti-ship or NGS. It’s a possibility for OPVs, but I think the 76mm would be better. If the T31s are to be slightly more expendable, then they’d be the best candidates for NGS missions, where you need a decent calibre gun to be effective. I thought the RN was moving from the 4.5″ to the US 5″, so I would like to see preferably the BAE(part UK owned) 5″ on future escorts, failing that nothing smaller than the 76mm.… Read more »


Type 31 fit is going to be a 57mm and 2 x 40mm Bofors as their CIWS defence, so unlikely the 76mm will be deployed as well – its already 2 new calibres coming with the T31s. Would make sense to fit those to the T45s too when the time comes for weapons refit


If both types were downgraded to 57mm then we’ll have less than half the escort fleet incapable of NGS in an already tiny escort fleet. That’s so insane they might try to do it. I still think 76mm is the bare minimum for any frigate or destroyer, but preferably 4 to 5″. 76mm is light, but a well proven design widely used by most navies worldwide. While light for NGS or anti ship, it has much higher rates of fire for AA/anti-missile. We had it on the Peacock class HK patrol boats. 57mm is a pea shooter unsuitable for escorts,… Read more »


No one ever said sanity or logic was in play 🙂
The 5” should be on the T31s which can be tasked with NGS, and the pea shooters on the deep water ships that will protect the carriers – T26 and T45
They are too valuable to risk near shore

Paul T

My thoughts exactly – use the MK45 on the T31,then use the MK3 57mm or the OTO 76mm on the T26.


Sea Venom was originally planned to be in service on 2020, but in mid-late 2018, an year long delay was announced. So, entry in 2021, as from current available information.

andy reeves

the sigma 10415 frigate/corvette, has almost identical dimensionas a batch 2 river, yet has 20 more crew,is 8 knots faster 10 meters longer, yet has a 76 mm otto melara rapid fire gun, two triple torpedo launchers, 4 Exocet and twin quadruple anti aircraft missile launchers. it just goes to show the directionless, misguide, muddled thinking that has left the M.O.D,ADMIRALTY, as being unfit for purpose an area where the lights should be turned off, the doors locked, all the retired office anchored admirals should be given an archer, seconded to the border force. and something which is actually of… Read more »


Is this the ship you mean? It’s 15m longer with a crew of 120 and only 20 days endurance versus 35 for the River 2s!

Steve P

Andy R – time to move on from the River bashing, the OPVs are for constabulary and surveillance. Yes they were pricey due to the deal struck to keep shipbuilding lines open BUT they do free up higher value assets for other tasks; the Bay class gets a break from the Caribbean, we don’t need to send a frigate to fight pirates etc. etc.


Always assumed that the Caribbean guard ship, would always require an embarked helicopter, primarily for disaster relief operations…. got to wonder how effective the Medway will be without the copter….


But when we next fight another war we’ll need them upgraded to corvette specs ASAP to bridge the huge gap between ordering & delivering decent escorts. Our fleet is so tiny today it could be neutralised in a couple of weeks.


Why talk about Damen 10514 light-frigate to compare with River B2 OPV?

Damen 10514 will never make a 320 sea-going-days a year. Impossible. May be 150 days or so.

Damen 10514 (if built to RN standard) will be very expensive (~3 times?) than River B2, and very man-power consuming. Comparing 1 River B2 to 1 Damen 10514 is pointless.

“3 River B2 vs 1 Damen 10514”. Which is better for Caribbean ?

Comparing Damen 10514 to T31 is very meaningful, I agree.


Disaster relief with 2×20 foot containers, no air assets whatsoever. Let’s be honest,little more than a jolly.

Meirion X

The hurricane season is over now for a while!
Drug smuggler season is now in full swing!
A time for Medway to earn it spurs!


We really should be spinning up a project to pick up the ball that was dropped when funding for the RN ScanEagle evaluation project was cancelled. A containerised drone with decent sensor package could make an amazing difference to the surveillance reach of vessels like these and the Bays. With space already designed-in for a container each side of the crane right next to the flight deck a River B2 could even carry 2 without compromising flight deck operations. Each container would pretty much be a UAV hanger where the main container doors open directly to the flight deck for… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

It’s not as if things like that would be expensive either, in a world where price tags run into the hundreds of millions or even billions for a single asset. Yet would improve capability tremendously.

Talking of money and assets that are relatively cheap, buy more CIWS to fit more widely on the fleet, as standard.


“hosted her first bingo night”. Who needs proper escorts when you have OPVs capable of intercontinental bingo missions?!!