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HMS Severn is being replaced with a new batch River class offshore patrol vessel after only 14 years of service.

The ceremony took place earlier in the day in Portsmouth.

In April this year in a written answer to a question raised by Sir Nicholas Soames, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence Harriet Baldwin stated that the 14 year old Severn would be decommissioned on October the 27th 2017.

Severn recently sailed for a final visit to her affiliated town of Newport. The vessel is being replaced by one of the new Batch 2 River class vessels being built on the Clyde.

The new Offshore Patrol Vessels were ordered to fill a gap in orders after the second carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction. Critics, the UK Defence Journal included, have raised concerns that they’re severely overpriced and lack important features, such as a helicopter hangar that other, cheaper vessels of the same type have.

The names of hulls four and five came to light the morning before they were officially announced.

The Strategic Defence & Security Review states:

“We will buy two further new Offshore Patrol Vessels, increasing the Royal Navy’s ability to defend UK interests at home and abroad.”

The vessels will be used by the Royal Navy to undertake various tasks including border protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement.

The order and construction of the new OPV’s will help sustain hundreds of skilled jobs on the Clyde until the Type 26 build begins, ensuring that the yards remain viable.

The vessels were described at a Defence Select Committee meeting a vessels “the Royal Navy does not want or need”.

31 COMMENTS

    • I agree. Depending on how much the former HMS Severn could be sold for then, if the asset (now in cash) were to be transferred to the Border Force I suspect they would prefer to use it to buy a couple of extra 42m cutters or, if the budget wouldn’t stretch that far, one cutter and an extra 20m RIB or two.

      The Border Force really does need to make more use of surveillance drones though so spending any proceeds (in the highly unlikely event that any actually come their way) on some pilot projects for serious drones (long duration with good sensor packages rather than the toys that you can buy in Maplins or that professional photographers use) eventually leading to some in-service drones might be the best way of all to spend any extra funds.

  1. Ridiculous! She still has 15 years service left in her.
    Equip her as a drone mothership for mine clearance.
    what a waste.
    give her to border force as an armed coast guard vessel akin to us coastguard and many other armed coast guard services the world over.

  2. If the UK is to take control of her 200 mile off shore limit for security and commercial fishing this vessel is needed to ensure our European friends keep their nets off our fishing stocks, which are badly managed and depleted due to the European fishing management system. Mrs. May has already given away two additional years of fishing rights to the EU, who aggressively represent the interest of those countries that lack their own fishing grounds. The amount of fish taken from within the 200 mile limit by French, Dutch, Spanish, German and other boats is staggering, whilst must of the fish sold in the UK has to be imported. Just wait until the Chinese demand access. This vessel must not be sold but deeded to another UK enforcement agency.

    • Not really. It’s replacement is better. At least they are being replaced one for one which in itself is a bloody miracle. Price is poor though for the goods at the end.

  3. The ship would do little to stop or reduce immigration because the powers that be do not want to stop it.
    Why else are the NATO ships in the med being used as a free taxi service to Europe rather depositing economic migrants back where they came from. Its all EU policy.
    Indigenous populations be damned.

  4. Future of Plymouth warships to be debated in Parliament
    A petition calling on the Government to protect HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark has gained more than 10,000 signatures

    In Plymouth Herald

    • It will be a simple debate, the government will state that the navy has done a review of its equipment against the threats posed to the country and that the ships are no longer required. I doubt there will be a vote on the topic, and even if there was i can’t see enough policticans breaking rank and voting against it.

  5. Royal Navy ship that carries town’s name to be scrapped
    HMS Atherstone is to be decommissioned after more than 30 years of service

    In Birmingham Mail

  6. In a small way this episode ie getting rid of a simple OPV before the end of its economic life and paying a premium to replace it just about sums up the MOD and why we get such poor value for money out of a huge defence budget. We all want shipbuilding to remain and flourish in the UK but the money spent buying 5 OPVs to replace 4 perfectly functional ships is a national disgrace. The money spent would keep our LPDs running for many years or buy a couple of Type 31s. Multiply this approach across the MOD and indeed public spending generally and its makes you want to cry. Tory or Labour they are useless and happy to spend our money without thought or care.

  7. This is the NSS in action; sell assets before they need expensive refits and while they are attractive to foreign navies who will pay to customize the River 1’s. The Philippines, Bangladesh, Columbia and Ireland might all be interested in purchasing ex HMS Severn for various roles.

  8. 14 years? What a joke. They might as well have not built her. For the love of god give her to the border force or Gibrator so they have an actual ship to defend themsleves from Spanish incursion.

    • I wonder if the Gibrator government has considered buying it. I guess the main problem is it is a military ship and so not ideal for domestic policing roles.

  9. By this time we ought have 3 or 4 Type 26 in service and have retired a couple of Type 23’s. And rather than 5 new OPVs we should have 5 Type 31s. Incredible foul up, but no point in crying about it. Heads should roll, but they won’t. The country will go down with balanced books!

  10. What should be happening is hmg pay for a few hundred more sailors so the batch 1s stay in the Fisheries Protection Squadron at home enabling the batch 2’s which are more capable vessels to be deployed abroad saving the escort fleet from doing those roles. The frigates and destroyers could then form groups dedicated to the carriers, LPDs and covering Faslane.

    • Yes; the only reason this is not happening in my opinion, is the risk the treasury would see an ‘ocean going patrol vessel’ as a frigate replacement, especially if it had a hanger. Actually there could be method in the RN madness of creating the concept of ‘River Batch 2’.

  11. In fact the RN has technically only had Severn for 5 years not 14 years! Prior to September 2012 the batch 1 Rivers weren’t owned by the RN, they were on lease from Vosper Thornycroft on 5 year contracts that in 2012 weren’t renewed and the RN purchased the three batch 1s outright instead (for £13 million each according to Wikipedia).

    Is Clyde still leased? I think she is which makes me wonder whether she will disappear from RN service by simply not renewing that leasing contract when it comes up for renewal.

    • Julian,
      That’s a good point you mention regards how the Military was straddled with so many lease contracts by the Labour Government. Leases which were designed to promote the image that the government of the day was defending the country whilst balancing the books. However as time has told, it was a false economy. The leases I know of are:
      River class boats
      C17 Heavy Lifters
      A330 Tanker
      White fleet lease (£100 million contract with Babcock)
      Skynet 5 satellite system

      • C17s all bought now.
        I think the army’s “c” vehicle fleet is also leased? I think that’s engineers plant, and stuff like that?

  12. Fit her with a RAMMING head, great big lump of hardened steel. Then next time the Russian carrier comes smoking its way down the coast of the UK accidentally in purpose RAM her. Only joking…
    I think a useful role for these vessels would be to refit them as surveillance/ ELINT vessels. We have lost all capability in that area.
    Alternatively up arm them and give them to the coastguard as a new military force, akin to US coastguard. We need more hulls in the water post Brexit to police our EEZ.
    just what exactly does the government want to do with the batch 1 rivers? Apart from sell them off at a big loss to UK plc and make the UK look stupid.

  13. A vessel of that type equipped with an unmanned aircraft like the Aerovel Flexrotor would create a tremendous offshore patrol capability: surely that combination could sell to our European neighbours or worldwide if we don’t want it.

  14. The sale price for 3 River 1s would not even pay for a cheapo T31 frigate. There are far more capable, better-armed OPVs and corvettes on offer from a dozen shipbuilders, at a lower price than BAe managed. Selling off sprightly, 14-year-old vessels for comparative peanuts only makes sense to the bean-counters in the Treasury and MOD.

    There is a role I would like to see these OPVs play. I have long believed that the RN should equip its RNR units with sea training vessels, which they did until the 90s. It makes no sense to have 15 (RNVR) ships’s companies in stone frigates with zero sea-going training or ability, they are not going to be of great use on mobilisation. After all, the 14 URNU (univ officer training) units each have their own 20m Archer-class patrol boat, so basically the RN DOES accept the need for sea training of volunteers.

    20m PBs would be fine for the RNR for basic sea training. What would be even better would be to have some minor warships that could take on a practical war role if needed. It might be convoy protection, escorting ships and supplies to northern Europe, taking over patrolling the UK waters to release RN ships for combat, taking over some of the out-of-area patrol tasks, etc. The River 1s would be handy ships for these kind of roles, though would need some weapon, sensor and ASW fit-out if they were to take on such tasks. I think the basic size of the RNR units would be perfectly adequate to man a ship of this size with a complement of 30+ or even a good deal more and would be great for volunteer recruitment and retention.

    Would like to see a trial of a River in RNR service, the navy brass have blanked the idea of operational RNR units for a couple of decades, as they have blanked the procurement of corvettes (hence under-armed River OPVs), in favour of large prestige projects and all-professional manning. In view of the rapidly-rising warship cost and tumbling number of RN hulls, it would make good sense to have a capable, part-trained volunteer force available if needed with ships that can make a useful contribution. The 3 River 1s and some decommissioned Sandown MCMVs would at least make a start.

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