The final of five new offshore patrol vessels has formally joined the Royal Navy in a short ceremony to raise the White Ensign for the first time on HMS Spey.

She was delivered to Portsmouth Naval Base in October from BAE Systems’ shipyards on the Clyde for the final stages of construction before Spey’s crew took custody of her yesterday afternoon.

Spey’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, said:

“It is such a privilege to lead Spey’s complement through the coming trials and training programme and bring her to operational status. In spite of the considerable disruption caused by the pandemic, the Royal Navy has received the fifth and final offshore patrol vessel and our job now is to prepare ourselves and Spey for whatever operations we are assigned.”

The Royal Navy say that no guests were invited for the ceremony to change the Blue Ensign – denoting a ship in government service – for White, and only essential personnel were on board with Spey, which is expected to depart Portsmouth next month for the first time.

With Spey’s handover the Batch 2 programme comes to an end. At its peak, it has sustained about 1,400 jobs within BAE Systems, including more than 200 apprentices.

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Rob Collinson



Heading out to The Far East along with Tamar (presumably forward based in Singapore) if the rumours are to be believed.

To do what will be interesting. Will be one to watch!


Looks like it.
1 x OPV in Windies
1 x OPV in Gib for Med and North Africa.
2 x OPV deployed from Spring 2021 very probably to Mid/Far East.

It would be nice if they can get HMS TAMAR into HK for a visit. I still have friends out there from when I was based in HMS TAMAR for 3 years (Stonecutters Island and POW Barracks) prior to the handover. The LEP Association would jump at the chance for a visit onboard.

Levi Goldsteinberg

I think it’s more likely Xi Jinping renounce his role as President and join the Mormons in Utah than invite a RN vessel into HK, bearing in mind all the problems there in the past two years which China holds us responsible for inciting. Not to mention the obvious ongoing irritation of dishing out millions of British passport to HK residents

David Barry

I like you!


It would certainly be great to see the white ensign flying in Victoria Harbour again! Although I doubt she’ll be alongside at Stonecutters these days, Kennedy Town is more likely, that’s where the USN Arleigh Burkes put in for their runs ashore. Although years ago I remember seeing an AB moored up at the Kai Tak cruise terminal, poor sods. K-Town is much more convenient, only a couple of stops on the MTR to Wanchai!! In the immediate term, I can’t see any visits from foreign navies due to covid, and even when entry requirements are relaxed a lot will… Read more »


Stick them on the quay by POW or at the Kowloon terminal. Easy access for the Cock and Arse party!
Kennedy? Nooooo!
I do miss the Wanch…I lived at Happy Valley in an 8 floor flat MQ opposite the old racecourse (they modernised it whilst we were there…that kept the kids entertained with all the construction work) and it was the best 3 years in the mob.
Looking back I should have accepted the job offer the HK police made but the situation was way to fluid and unknown for me and a young family.

Meirion X

At least one be needed in the UK for training of relief crews for forwarded vessels aboard. And another spare to relieve forwarded vessels for maintenance etc.
Is that the case?


Hard to predict whether the batch 1’s in the UK will be able to provide refresher training for rotating crews and it could be that deployments are simply gapped once they need to start coming home for significant maintenance/refits.

Or if only Tamar or Spey heads east it would leave the other to reinforce the vessels here and then get into a rotation with the other 4 once the 1st needs to be replaced.


Out of Singapore the Andaman sea, the malacca straights and the Celebes Sea are hot spots for serious piracy and the 30mm on Spey etc may be a bit lightweight. Often pirates in those areas are rogue elements of a couple of local navies..(navy by day..pirates by night) with patrol vessels armed with 30mm, 40mm or 57mm and they won’t allow themselves to be captured easily. Was involved in an oil project that required a rig to be towed north west from Singapore through the Malacca Straights. A couple of nights into the tow and ‘Pirates’ attempted to stop the… Read more »

Douglas Newell

Interesting Story. I’m sure most here (me included) think that the OPVs are under-armed. The weapons fit they have is fine for the expected threats to their OPV role in the Med. and the North and South Atlantic. But the Middle East and Far East are a different kettle of fish. Surely it wouldn’t kill the navy budget to up gun them a wee bit. They paid enough for the Batch 2 boats.


Completely agree, these OPVs have a lot of potential I think to be a much more serious naval asset if we just spent a little more cash on them. Up-gunned and with some drones they can be of real value and more capable of looking after themselves.


Perhaps the judgement is that the OPV could call up air support from a Wildcat if needed. Looking at a map of the area the Straits of Malaca look to stretch roughly 100-200 miles NNW from Singapore. Recently RAF Typhoons also visited Rimba airbase in Brunei. Don’t know if we have any formal agreemenf with the Sultan but that might also be another basing possibility. The ability of a River 2 to launch and recover a UAV and refuel and re-arm a Wildcat does create a good policing package. Be interesting to see if we set up a small flight… Read more »

Meirion X

If 1 B1 River goes into maintenance, that leaves UK waters with only 2 OPV’s, surely that is Not enough?


I imagined at least some of the batch 2’s were going to remain in The UK to bolster the older OPV’s now we are post Brexit.

However Medway and Forth won’t be back home from their deployments for a long time, it seems pretty likely Trent will operate out of Gibraltar in The Med and off The West African Coast and there are fairly strong rumours that either Tamar or Spey or both will be heading to Singapore.

Perhaps only 1 will head east to retain 4 vessels UK waters, but we shall see.

Peter S

I can’t see any rational purpose in sending these almost unarmed OPVs to the far East. Nor do I think any RN presence is required to assist fag end colonies which not only make no contribution to costs but actually undermine our tax system.If Gibraltar wants protection from Spain or the Channel Islands needs fishery protection, then join the taxpaying club.
What seems to be driving these deployments, including the announced Far East tour of a carrier group, is just nostalgia for the days of empire. It is no wonder defence is such an easy target for cuts.


Welcome Spey! Despite some initial misgivings concerning the need and suitability of the Batch 2’s , they are turning out to be really valuable assets for the RN, not only taking pressure off higher end ships but with considerable potential for upgrading if the need arises.

John Clark

Indeed, certainly the Far East deployed assets need to be upgraded, it would be extremely embarrassing if one of them gets chased away by pirates because of lack of armament!

As Pete correctly identifies, local force elements moonlighting in the ‘private sector’ won’t take kindly to having their nefarious activities disturbed!

Supportive Bloke

Yes, but a radar controlled stabilised naval cannon has a whole different level of accuracy to some anti aircraft guns bolted to trawler moonlighting as a gunboat.

Stir in potential difference in ammunition…..whole different ball game.


Add some martlet perhaps on the gun plus a s100 campcopter also with martlet. Which can also be used on the wildcats. But like the POV plus option here

Supportive Bloke

If you want to up gun then the 40mm or 57mm is the obvious and cheap / less cheap choice as the article suggests with 2 x 30 or 40mm to the wings for last ditch or anti swarm. As I’ve posted before I don’t see the Martlet adding much if you have 40mm and nothing if you have 57mm. The range is not that fantastic and you escalate from gun to missile systems and maintainers. It would be a different story if you had a helo with Martlet onboard as there is obvious skill set overlap. I see high… Read more »


Indonesia, as a random example, has an archipelago of 17000 islands and consequently a very large fleet of many old but also many very modern patrol and corvette vessels ….many fitted with European, Korean or Russian systems.

Have a look at following link.

David Barry

Has anyone checked the rivets? Asking for a friend.

Circa 2000tns, a Leander came in at? Once (if) we have the T32 in service, uparm them with 57/76 and standardised across the escort fleet with 127mm in the 26/45 platforms.

And someone pkease make sure the RN xan plug in their ipones et al 😉

Meirion X

It does Not make sense to arm T45 with 127mm. An specialise AAW T45 should Not go near the firing line!
Put 57mm’s on them instead!

David Flandry

I’m glad this ship was commissioned; I just wish it had a more substantial weapons fit. As is, its less well armed then most coast guard vessels. But cheers to the ship and crew.


Presuming the 40mm system going on T31 would fit on the forecastle?

I don’t buy into much of the nonsense discussed around up-arming the River’s but replacing the 30mm with the former would give them a more rounded anti-surface / anti-air and basic CIWS capability.

That and some small containerized UAV’s for improved surveillance is all i’d look to for the sort of anti-piracy, intelligence gathering roles currently envisaged.

John Stott

Glad to see “global reach” with a gunboat again. China must be shitting itself.