HMS Forth, first of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels has been formally named in Glasgow today.

HMS Forth was named by the Lady Sponsor Rachel Johnstone-Burt who broke a bottle of whisky on the bow.

The OPV will soon depart on sea trials before entering service with the Royal Navy in 2018. She is the first of a fleet of five new Batch 2 River-class OPVs being built on the Clyde which are all expected to be in service by 2021.

The vessels were earlier described at a Defence Select Committee meeting as ships “the Royal Navy does not want or need”. It is understood that the Ministry of Defence paid an extra £100 million for new Offshore Patrol vessels in order to satisfy a requirement to pay BAE a minimum of £230 million per year and despite this, the vessels will be much less capable than vessels of similar price.

A house of Commons Briefing Paper explains the agreement:

“In 2009 the Government signed a 15 year Terms of Business Agreement (TOBA) with BAE Systems and Babcock. The TOBA guaranteed BAE Systems a minimum level of surface ship build and support activity of £230 million a year.

This was judged as the minimum level of work possible to sustain a credible warship-building industry in the UK and thus avoid the delays encountered during the Astute class submarine build caused in part by the loss of skilled staff following the gap between Astute and the Vanguard class submarine build.

If cancelled the MoD would be liable for industry closure costs and compensation to BAE Systems.”

The government say that the work to build HMS Forth and her sister ships is sustaining around 800 Scottish jobs.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, said:

“As part of a sustained programme delivering world-class ships and submarines, HMS Forth’s naming is a vitally important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need.

From counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, to securing the UK’s borders on patrols closer to home, the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels will help protect our interests around the world.”

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said:

“With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future Fleet. In a few short years, these five Offshore Patrol Vessels will be busy protecting the security of UK waters and those of our overseas territories.

They are arriving in service alongside a new generation of attack submarines and Fleet tankers, and will be followed shortly by new frigates and other auxiliaries; all of this capability will coalesce around the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

Together, they form a truly balanced Fleet, able to provide security at sea, promote international partnership, deter aggression and, when required, fight and win.”

The Offshore Patrol Vessels were ordered to fill a gap in orders after the second carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction.

Regarding the cost of the new Offshore Patrol vessels:

“The provisional cost of the new vessels was given as £348 million but because the TOBA required a £230 million a year spend with BAE, the Defence Secretary estimated the additional cost to the MoD of the ships, over and above the payments the MoD would have had to have made to BAE, is less than £100 million.”


  1. paying an extra 100m quid for 800 jobs is a bit expensive, might as well pay it directly to the workers and skip BAE

  2. Politics aside, these OPVs are so disappointing given they have so much more potential. If the MoD was ‘obliged’ to bankroll BAE then for not too much more they could have been fitted with sensors, equipment and a weapons fit that would make them much more useful and help relieve the pressure on the escort fleet and RFA. I know this fact has been opined by many on this site numerous times before but I just can’t help but feel what a waste of money these OPVs truly are and represent an opportunity missed……

  3. I find it astounding given RSN Al Sadiq-class patrol boats (built in the United States 1972–1980) have a displacement of 495 tons and are fitted with four Harpoon SSM, one 76 mm OTO gun, one 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, two 20 mm guns, one 81 mm mortar, two 40 mm grenade launchers, two triple 12.75 inch torpedo tubes???

    • Differnet vessels for a different job. OPVs are not frontline ships, that’s what the escort fleet is for and these vessels free them from drug trafficing policing and other secind line duties.

      • My point was we build a 2000 T , at some significant cost and fit it with a 30 mm gun. OPV’s may not be front-line ships BUT they are now conducting jobs that were solely the remit of front-line ships in the past. We could have got a ship cheaper and better armed had we not been stuck with BAE.

      • My point was we build a 2000 T OPV , at some significant cost and fit it with a 30 mm gun. OPV’s may not be front-line ships BUT they are now conducting jobs that were solely the remit of front-line ships in the past. We could have got a ship cheaper and better armed had we not been stuck with BAE.

  4. Now now, lets not forget that these OPVs have:

    1 × 30 mm cannon
    2 × Miniguns
    2 × General purpose machine guns

    Great, innit?

  5. We may as well just leave them tied up in the Clyde, ready to be gifted to the jocks for their new independent navy in 2020.

  6. So, BAE are taken care of either way.

    Mediocre OPV relative to the price paid.
    Look to the Holland class from Damen to see what a sea-presence OPV should be for half the price.

    • Seems BAE were guaranteed a certain amount, someone else decided to ask for bare minimum kit and just hand them the difference.


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