Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is understood to have deployed HMS Mersey to the English Channel within hours of receiving a request from the Home Secretary to help with what he calls a ‘migrant crisis’.

HMS Mersey, an offshore patrol vessel, is ready to begin work as soon as today with other assets, including aerial surveillance, set to follow, The Times has reported this morning.

Originally, the plan was to replace the Batch 1 River class (of which HMS Mersey is part) Offshore Patrol Vessels with the newer Batch 2 vessels. However, it was recently announced that all vessels will be retained.

Last year we reported that Rear Admiral Chris Gardner, assistant chief of naval staff, said that the Royal Navy is “keen” to keep the ships. Speaking to The News Portsmouth last year, Rear Adm Gardner said:

“At the moment no decision has been taken about what their future could be. I’m keeping the ships in a state of operational readiness which means that as the future becomes a bit clearer post-Brexit, and as our requirements are more broadly understood, we will be able to make decisions about whether or not we will seek to retain and operate them as additional units in the Royal Navy or find some other solution.”

Last year, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence, Guto Bebb revealed that £12.7M had been allocated from the EU Exit Preparedness Fund to preserve the three Batch 1 River class ships, should they be needed to control and enforce UK waters and fisheries following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Written Statement of 13 March 2018, Spring Statement, HCWS 540, if he will publish a list of where the £12.7 million allocated to his Department to realise the opportunities from EU exit will be spent.”

Guto Bebb, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:

“The Ministry of Defence has now been allocated £12.7 million in 2018-19 for essential EU exit preparations. This will fund preserving three Off-Shore Patrol Vessels, should they be needed to control and enforce UK waters and fisheries. It also includes some EU Exit preparedness funding for UK defence bases in Europe. As with all HMT Reserve funding, finalised allocations will be confirmed at Supplementary Estimates 2018-19 in early 2019.”

Earlier in the year, Bebb revealed the running cost of the Batch 1 vessels in response to a written question:

“The cost of operating a River Class Offshore Patrol Batch 2 Vessel will be determined by the specific operational programmes of the ships when they enter service. We have used the cost of the current in service Batch 1 Offshore Patrol Vessels as the basis of our planning which is £6.5 million per year.”

There is a dispute however over who should pay the costs for the recently announced deployment to the Channel.

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Albion Jack

Perhaps we can get a larger fleet and actually maintain our waters while expanding to the five eye nations and beyond.

Britannia might not have the numbers but in quality she does rule the waves.


Perhaps we can get a larger fleet and actually maintain our waters while expanding to the five eye nations and beyond.

Britannia might not have the numbers but in quality she does rule the waves.

Cam Hunter

It’s french waters we need to patroll, then we can put the boats load of criminals back to France where they came from…. if we patrol uk waters we will have to land them in the UK…..

John Clark

The needed approach is very clear …

Intercept all boats before they hit UK waters and return them to the nearest safe port (France).

I would also send back every single person who enters the country illegally. They are leaving a perfectly safe and civilised country ( France again) so I really can’t see how they can legally claim asylum here in the UK.

Weak govenment again, noone has the balls to make the call….

Daniele Mandelli

Spot on. Makes them look like they are acting when the issue has been there for years. I understand that anyone claiming asylum should do it at the first safe country reached? Happy to be corrected. Europe is a civilised, safe continent. So economic migrants and asylum seekers cross Europe to get to the UK, cross illegally on small boats, or storm lorries, then claim asylum as soon as they reach here. I wonder why? Is the UK seen as the promised land of free handouts by its welfare system? We all know the answer. HMG is soft, do not… Read more »


Well, it is already a month+ if I want to see my GP. First you have to get to the surgery. The roads are clogged with the 10 million+ Blair/Brown/Cameron/May let into the UK. If you want immigration, you should first provide the extra infrastructure such as housing/roads/schooling/water/electric/health. Instead they were all cut back, while the migrants flowed in. I don’t understand why we do not use the bloated aid budget to build a nice camp in a third world country to take these illegal migrants. It need not be a grim tent city. It could be blocks of Premier… Read more »


Amen to all of that guys. We cannot just keep letting in more forever, we have to draw the line somewhere. We are already 20%+ non White British, we have already let more than enough in. Do you see China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, etc., etc. making 20% of their countries non indigenous then STILL keep letting more in? We cannot go along with this anymore either.

Daniele Mandelli

Stephen. I know you get shot down in flames with the “non white British” comment you keep coming out with. I know and appreciate where you are coming from, but you cannot say that. Immigration problems lie with numbers, and with attitudes of migrants, and integration with Britain’s culture. Not skin colour. A black person can be as loyal to this country as a white one, it’s not skin colour that counts. It’s attitudes. Why should a non white person born here be any less loyal to their country if their heart is with it? Your comment just gives ammunition… Read more »

Bob Hodges

As much as I sympathise about how hard it is to get a GP appointment, as GP myself (with one of the largest practices in the South West of England) I would say that ‘immigration’ is the least of our worries and only a minor factor in the lack of appointments: 1) Immigrants make up a greater proportion of our staff and colleagues than they do of our patients. We’re understaffed and there are not enough trained healthcare professionals to employ, even if we had funding that kept pace with workload (which is doesn’t). 2) The problem is demographics –… Read more »

W Dutton

It’s far more complicated than this simplistic analysis. House building dropped dramatically after 2007, lack of credit for house builders put paid to that. As you say immigration has continued at the same levels, so it’s the combination of the two is the real problem. The facts is both Tories (restricting social house building since the 80’s) and Labour (less restrictive immigration) are to blame. Even this doesn’t touch the surface of the issues at hand. There is a huge focus on industry and jobs in the SE, so guess where people want to live? With poor transport and a… Read more »


Never going to happen. The Western culture is being slowly eroded by 3rd world migration. It’s happening in Europe and is happening in America. Impossible to stop it when the liberals in all the Western government countries want it to continue since 9 out of 10 of the migrants when eventually allowed to vote will vote for a liberal candidates that are for the continued 3rd world migration to the West. Just look at what happened in California. It was always a conservative voting state until the numbers of Mexican and Central American numbers started to really climb. Now they… Read more »


Danielle ( I can’t reply directly to your comment), of course I can say it, it’s went too far. Like I say a few and no one would have been bothered, but we have to draw the line somewhere, we cannot just keep letting more in forever. Do you think China, Korea, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Turkey, etc., etc. are saying we are all exactly the same, even sub Saharan Africans are exactly the same as us why shouldn’t we just make ourselves outnumbered in our own country? We cannot be this weak anymore either or we will literally end up… Read more »


dan, it’s not too late to stop it, the public’s attitude towards immigration is changing across Europe and will continue to change, and it needs to continue to change if the truth be told.

barry white

I do wish the goodies goodies in this country would see what is happening right under our noses
This are mostly older age guys who are invading this country under the pretending to be so called refugees
They are i am sure but i have no proof being funded by regimes such as Iran and suchlike
The police have even said before christmas warning about gun smuggling into the UK
Well put two and two together
Even Diane Abbot couldn’t get that sum wrong

r cummings

Successive governments have permitted the levels of immigration because (a) we have an increasingly elderly population and a diminishing population of working age to support them, (b) British industry needs more skilled and semi-skilled workers than our pitiful trade training set-up produces, (c) British farmers and the service sector need keen workers to do the less-well-paid jobs that young Brits turn their noses up at and (d) the Treasury and country benefit enormously from the influx of additional tax-payers – the immigrants pay in more per head than the Brits do, as a high number are of working age, not… Read more »


Why didn’t they encourage native British people to have families to increase our population? Answer because they wanted this to happen, it has all been planned. Also, they DELIBERATELY don’t train British people so they have an excuse to flood our country with immigrants.

We have let more than enough immigrants into Britain by now, we can’t just keep letting more in forever, we have to draw the line somewhere, what are we going to do, just keep letting more in until we are outnumbered in our own country?


Because the days of large families are over. My mum was one of 5, my dad one of 4. Each of my grandparents was one of at least 5. But the days where couples had large numbers of children are over for a number of reasons, none of which are to do with immigration. 1) women now go to work and have careers of their own. They aren’t simply housewives cooking, cleaning and looking after the children. This shift started after WW2 so it’s not a new phenomenon. 2) women who have children want to go back to work. The… Read more »

captain P Wash.

Ah but, Try telling that to the Immigrants though. (Slaps head, rolls eyes) Gravy train and soft touch springs to mind.

r cummings

How do you ‘encourage’ couples to have more children than they want, or single people to get married and have families when they don’t want to? It is a Western problem, women putting careers first and maybe not having children at all, the acceptance of contraception in Catholic countries, which saw the birth rate in Italy for instance fall below the death rate, with quite an alarming drop in overall population. None of it has been PLANNED, it is just the way modern civilisation has developed. And the axing of our trade training, by putting the onus on the construction,… Read more »


Just look at nursing, we can’t even fill the uni places, who in our safe wealthy nation wants to taken on 60k worth of dept and 3 years to qualify in a profession that pays 21-29k a year and burns you out after a couple of decades with a whole photo album of dead people in your head, a guilt complex and PTSD. I’ll tell you who, those people who come from countries where being a nurse is a respected way to escape grinding poverty. The sad truth is that there are lots of jobs that a lot of our… Read more »

David E Flandry

At one time Canada offered cash to citizen families who had children, back when Canada was in need of people. Now its easier/cheaper to let immigrants in to do the work.


You can just as easily find lazy immigrants and good British workers though, so it is a lie to say they are all good workers and all British workers are bad. But I agree to some extent, a lot of the Eastern European workers are good workers. It would be a good idea to give preference to Eastern Europeans in immigration as they are usually good workers and also fit straight in with European culture, that should be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit, preference for E.U. citizens in immigration in exchange for some concessions of our own. And… Read more »


So are you in favor of this modern slavery, where it is cheaper for big business to pay a pittance to a migrant to do a drudge job, rather than invest in new machinery?
Lets not forget that migrants get old & ill, at which point they need to draw on our pensions, welfare & health services.

andy reeves

i’ve had a reply from the M.O.D in regarding the building of conventional submarines, i was told the u.k no longer has the designs for building them or the capacity to do so! the idea of a national shipbuilding plan is a sham and a damning indictment of the shoddy was one of our major industries has been left to rot away.

John Clark

UKBF sea going element, has been allowed to wither on the vine, as it only previously had to carry out it’s part of a wider EU plan.

You know the plan, every man and his dog flying an EU state flag could fish our waters while our own fishing fleet was scrapped on mass and once thriving costal communities went into decline. That fantastic plan.

Well soon, we will have our own economic zone to police and don’t look at the depleted Navy to do it. Better start building up the Boarder Force quick smart.

r cummings

The UK Border Force is actually nothing to do with the EU, it’s a British initiative. Members of the Schengen agreement have to police their external borders to non-EU countries and some choose to do this by having a Border Force agency. But we are not a signatory to Schengen and have no such obligations; the UKBF is a purely British invention, entirely under the control of the UK. The fact that it looks rather thin and slightly shambolic testifies to it being a home-grown political creature, there to smooch the public and the tabloids as much as to safeguard… Read more »


We definitely need to spend more on our border force that is one thing we can all agree on (personnel, cutters, aircraft, etc.). We need to control our borders much more tightly in future than what we have been.

andy reeves

what use are the archers? they sit alongside a wall someplace, and when they can be used to support the border force, they’re not, some are ‘fann’y boats for universities to play with.

r cummings

There is a need for basic sea training and the Archers are fine for that. But they are pretty small, in the USN, they would be classed as PBH, basically harbour and (close) inshore patrol boats. They are not designed for heavy sea states offshore so would not be much use as UKBF cutters, though maybe they could do an inshore job in the Channel. The UNRUs are a useful way of recruiting future RN officers, would hate to see the MOD find an excuse to cut their training tenders to save a pittance. We should really be supplying Archers… Read more »

John Clark

They have had two years to get ready to leave the EU and a growing economic migrant problem that goes back even longer …

They have just rearranged deckchairs on the Titanic …

Bloody useless govenment


We have to keep all 8 River class O.P.V.s, and even that isn’t enough considering some will be deployed abroad (Falklands, etc.), and some will be in repair, refit, etc. We have to build 2-4 more for a total of 10-12. France, Italy and Spain all have more O.P.V.s than us with shorter coastlines, and with Brexit we will need to patrol our E.E.Z. so we have to build more of these inexpensive vessels, the work could be given to Babcocks Appledore yard.

We also absolutely have to have more border force cutters.

captain P Wash.

Agree with you about Appledore mate. The last English Shipyard to produce Whole Warships. Another Disgrace In my book. Who the hell in England Hates the English so much ?

(getting a tad annoyed with some of this stuff of late. might have to go lay down in a dark place).


captain P Wash, Agree mate, I hope the Type 31 contract goes to Cammel Lairds on the Mersey, I don’t mind Scotland getting some, or even most, of the Royal Navy’s shipbuilding, but they can’t have all of it, every single bit.


At least they have committed to keeping Mersey, Tyne, and Severn active – which will take us to 8 OPVs, assuming Clyde decommissions.

Agree with giving the work to Appledoor if we want to build more.

captain P Wash.

Unchecked Immigration and the loss of control of our Laws are two of the main reasons so many of my Friends and Acquaintances voted leave. Camoron and the Rich and Powerful elite ( and Gary Lineaker) were Barking very loud at Us but “We” the majority gave them a proper big Slap. It’s so painfully obvious that They are still not listening. Walk down any Street, and Shopping Isle and You’d be hard pressed to understand what anyone is saying. Visit that god awful London and you’d swear you were In another Country/Planet/Solar system. The PC Brigade are hell bent… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I quite agree captain.

I was born in London but I dont know it any more. Not the London I knew anyway.

captain P Wash.

I’m of Scottish and English blood, with a fair smattering of Italian and other races, (hence the, “I’m an Englishman” remark a few days back.) Spent a lot of time travelling and a fair few years In London. So much of the Country has changed so much now, I can’t ever see It ever getting back to some sort of normal. (whatever “Normal” was ).

Ivan Kalot

Yore Boats Is of lack of big Bang stuff, You are no have Big Gun to act on Invaders of Land from Rusky place and no womans of balls in gentile areas.

Daniele Mandelli


captain P Wash.

Ermmm ….. Anyone ?


What a compeletly pointless thing and fully media thing to do. What on earth is a war ship going to do to stop level level people smuggling. All its going to do it bring the immigrants aboard and sail them over to the UK.

This does nothing to stop or slow the activity.


Unfortunately it is too easy to believe the shallow reporting on events in the channel. Border Force are and have been interceptung and turning away thousands of migrants over the last few years, yet they get little recognition. In a unique operation we have UK BF staff based in a number of French ports. Cutting off the flow. BF staff are not limitless and are deployed at the significant border areas, hence a few immigrants coming in via light aircraft or a few boats is insignificant compared to the lorries/ vans in the tunnel, dozens of vechiles are intercepted every… Read more »

captain P Wash.

Well I guess having 300,000 a year Is fine then, as long as They don’t arrive in small boats. MI …. lol.


300,000 a year, lol, interesting planet you live on. By the way Elvis is dead and man did land on the moon.

captain P Wash.

UK Immigration Figures. 2016, 330,000. 2017. 230,000. (that they know about). Obviously I don’t live on the same Planet as you. Are you sure Elvis Is Dead ?

Daniele Mandelli

Basil that 300,000 figure I oft quote and which the Capt did is an official figure from the ONS. The net increase in UK population after those emigrating are taken into account. Times that by 4 years and it is over 1 million. Please tell me where they are going to live? Where are they going to work? Where is the sewage, the schooling, the infrastructure, the homes? Are you happy to see the Green belt destroyed to put houses on it? Not to mention an ageing population to go with it. Do you know how much pressure is being… Read more »

captain P Wash.

Daniele, The Elvis comment left me “All Shook Up” More than the Ignorance of actual Immigration Figures . Well said mate.


Reading some of the posts is depressing, The UK has always been a melting pot of nationalities, often brought to the UK by government schemes to support our economic development, post ww2 we needed help from our colonies, hence schemes to bring in west Indians, Pakistani and Indian workers, today we are heavily recruiting Commonwealth nationals for the armed services. Why? It seems that UK residents don’t want to work in certain areas, nhs, care, agriculture, fisheries to name a few, so we can’t blame companies for recruiting foreigners. If we had full employment or a surplus of nationals looking… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Yes Basil.

Agreed with much of that.

But NOT at the levels currently seen since New Labour in 1997.

I just cannot understand why you cannot see it.

PS, my father was an immigrant here too, in 1962. There was not mass immigration then.


I wouldn’t say we needed help from our ex colonies. It was part of a deal by the big banks who bailed us out in ww2. Just think about it, at our lowest point in history, our weakest point. We was forced to accept a massive debt, forced into multiculturalism, and forced to hand over Israel in just 2 days! Every other hand Over of our colonies took a minimum of two years.
No one ever speaks of this
We lost ww2. We have never been the same since. Ideological subversion has kicked in now we are doomed!!


One “River” to cover such a large area , why not use our smaller units , these little plastic tubs using far less crew could provide a grey curtain in the channel both for Fishery and border protection after Brexit and the run up to .


Can anyone explain why the normally obvious sharp angulation in Mersey’s bow is completely invisible in the photo above or is it just my old eyes?

captain P Wash.

It’s definitely HMS Mersey and the line Is still there but the Lighting and angle have helped soften It. There Is a clearer picture (Same one ) on Fan dom. or just search HMS Mersey image on Google.


Thanks Cap’n-never doubted it was the Mersey but almost looks as if the image has been photoshopped!

Steve R

How’s this for am immigration policy: only let in the sexy ones? ;-p


It seems that the UK and the RN have again let the ball drop. The RN in all fairness has never been funded well for operations in brown water. It is time possibly for the UK to look at a Coast Guard similar to the US. So what resources do we have, well to start the five Revenue cutters, eight OPVs and three Scottish fisheries vessels. . That gives 16 hulls, they are short on air support. This could possibly be rectified in an ingenious way, if I am correct the UK has some semi-ridged airships such as airlander 10,… Read more »