HMS Forth, the first of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels being built on the Clyde, has departed Glasgow on sea trials today.
HMS Forth is the first of a new class of River class offshore patrol vessel under-construction on the Clyde.
On the 6th of November 2013 it was announced that the Royal Navy had signed an Agreement in Principle to build a batch of three new OPVs based on the River class design at a fixed price of £348m including spares and support, an additional two Batch 2 vessels were outlined in the Strategic Defence & Security Review in 2015.
The First Sea Lord recently elaborated on the potential uses for the vessels, including the possibility of forward basing an extra ship at the Falklands Islands, or forward basing it elsewhere. Admiral Sir Philip Jones said:
“Well, you are absolutely right that they have proved enormously useful, flexible and reliable ships. There are four vessels that we have in service at the moment. Three are Tyne, Mersey and Severn, which operate largely in UK waters on fishery protection and offshore tapestry protection, and of course they are increasingly working with the Border Force and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in support of protection of UK waters. Then we have a fourth one, which is permanently based in the South Atlantic.
We have had those ships in service for quite some time now. We are looking at replacing them with slightly larger and more capable ships in due course anyway, so that was already in the course of production to bring three of those in.
The additional two will enable us to take a longer term view of how we replace HMS Clyde, which is a slightly larger helicopter-capable version of the OPV. We are looking at a number of ways in which we might use the fifth one. So, the fourth one is clearly a Clyde replacement.
The fifth one can either be added into the mix for the three that operate in UK waters or it could be forward-deployed somewhere else in the world, or it could become a second vessel operating in the South Atlantic. All those options are available.”
— Geoff Searle (@Type26ProgDir) August 30, 2017
This comes amid a naval version of musical chairs with two Hunt class ship crews becoming the new ship’s company of HMS Tyne whose own sailors are to crew the new HMS Forth in order to bring the vessel into service.
According to the Royal Navy, under Project Jicara, two crews from Portsmouth’s 2nd Mine Countermeasures Squadron will join the Fishery Protection Squadron to man and operate one of the River-class vessels while their own Hunt class ships are out of action undergoing major engine changes.
HMS Tyne is a River class offshore patrol vessel built by Vosper Thornycroft in Southampton to serve as a fishery protection unit within UK waters along with her two sister ships Mersey and Severn.
Lt Alex Coleman, Executive Officer of MCM2 Crew 6 said:
“The opportunity to man and operate an offshore patrol vessel for a Hunt-class crew is quite unique.
This is a great chance for many of our sailors to broaden their skills on different machinery and shows just how adaptable and employable the guys really are.”
The crew will be in charge of HMS Tyne until the end of the year, when they’ll move to HMS Mersey, allowing the latter’s crew to move on-board new River class vessel HMS Trent.