The MoD has authorised the deployment of HMS Mersey to the Aegean.

According to a Ministry of Defence press release, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has authorised the deployment of HMS Mersey to the Aegean in support of NATO activity to counter migration.

“This is a significant extension of the UK contribution reflecting our continuing commitment to tackle illegal people trafficking and migration in the Aegean Sea. The announcement comes as the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirms the international effort is working with numbers crossing being reduced by around 90% – from several thousand per day to tens.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“British ships have been at the forefront of the progress made in the Aegean – helping to disrupt people trafficking routes and save lives.

We must now continue to focus on stopping this trade in human misery for good.”

The announcement that HMS Mersey would join the NATO activity until the end of July was made by the Prime Minister while in Warsaw for the NATO Summit.

HMS Mersey, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, will provide the taskforce with enhanced ability to work closer to the shore line and greater agility – the specific capabilities the operation’s commander has asked for.

NATO ships are working closely with Greek and Turkish coastguards, alerting them to sightings of migrant vessels crossing the Aegean and enabling them to turn them back or prevent them attempting the dangerous crossing in the first place. Our RFA ships deployed so far have proved highly effective at facilitating the coastguard in their important work.

NATO ships are working closely with Greek and Turkish coastguards, alerting them to sightings of migrant vessels crossing the Aegean, so they can intercept the migrant boats and disrupt the smugglers’ business model. Our RFA ships deployed so far have proved highly effective at deterring those attempting this dangerous crossing in the first place and facilitating the coastguard in their important work.

HMS Mersey will deploy to the Aegean from the Caribbean where she has been on counter narcotic operations. In April she played a key role alongside the Canadian Navy and US coastguard in a £12 million drugs bust where 304kg of drugs were seized.

The Defence Secretary recently visited RFA Cardigan Bay to see the Royal Navy’s impact on countering illegal people trafficking and migration in the Aegean Sea.”


  1. These stories really show how useful the new river class will be.

    The low intensity missions appear to be on the raise and as the navy is stretched already, putting auxs / rivers on these types of roles seems sensible.

    Just a shame they don’t have hangers, although if they did we would probably be pushed on airframes/pilots.

    • I agree re hangar & associated airframe/pilot concerns. Batch 2 do seem to have worthwhile enhancements but improved aviation facilities was a missed opportunity in my opinion.

      I know there is a school of thought that the RN actively didn’t want too much in case that allowed government to count them as front line assets and use them as an excuse to cut numbers elsewhere but, even with that in mind, for me the perfect compromise would have been to stretch Batch 2 enough to build in a 7 metre long “hanger”. That would give three potential extra capabilities

      1 – A proper enclosed space for embarking and maintaining something like a ScanEagle UAV which would be very useful for some of these policing operations.

      2 – With an integrated telescopic extension a helicopter could be fully maintained if needed and, since the telescoping bit only needs to extend the existing 7m hangar to full helicopter length rather than needing to be full hanger length by itself it would be lighter, cheaper and less bulky than a full-length telescopic hanger.

      3 – A standard 20′ ISO container is about 6.1 metres long so the permanent hanger structure, if not used for 1 or 2 above, could act as a mini mission bay which could take a couple of containers (supplies or even a portable brig, extra accommodation, medical facilities etc). In fact UAV operation might even be able to co-exist with a single ISO container embarked.

      All in all a 7 metre or less(*) stretch would have added a huge amount of capability.

      (*) any stretch would also add space below decks which might mean less than 7 metre added length required to create the hanger space due to relocating some topside stuff below decks

    • While it’s no substitute for a helicopter I can see the new OPV’s being equipped with a UAV, a variety are available, not only Scan eagle & these would at least expand the surveillance and reconnaissance capability of the ships.
      HMS Protector doesn’t have a helicopter but is equipped with a couple of UAV”s in the Antarctic so I expect lessons will be learned from that experience, and the RN has done some work in the shipborne deployment of UAV’s with Southampton University, so I imagine the utility and quality of these pilotless aircraft can only improve over time.

  2. Good old Fishery protection Sqdn we need a few more of these ships along with crews this class of ship are ideal for patrol duties as a like the island class good sea boats that’s if you have the strong guts no good for anyone that suffers from sea sickness

  3. Post Brexit, if the UK chooses to reclaim control of its fisheries, we’ll need more opvs just to keep Spanish trawlers out of our waters.

  4. Have the extra 2 been confirmed and order placed or just promised?

    I assume they will have to start building them from next year, once HMS Forth is finished.

  5. rn in trouble little fishery ships doing frigate work simply not the standard we exspect of our country and our navy, we needf a sustained building programme and plenty of ships, most of our goods and imports come by sea we are an island, 70 years worrying about Europe when commanding the sea is more important


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here