The third of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels under construction in Glasgow will be formally named today at a ceremony on the Clyde.

Medway, the second of class, was named in October 2017 and is set to depart for sea trials in the first half of this year. Tamar and Spey, the last of the River Class OPVs are currently under production at BAE Systems Govan yard.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb, said:

“AS the third of five Offshore Patrol Vessels being built in Scotland, HMS Trent will soon be part of a fleet of highly capable ships. These new vessels will keep the UK safe by conducting counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and other vital maritime operations. UK Defence has invested in an unprecedented ship-building production line in Glasgow and the city’s shipyards with their 1,700 highly skilled engineers and technicians, benefiting from full order books for the next two decades.”

The sixth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name, HMS Trent will be armed with a medium-calibre gun and a flight deck capable of accommodating a Merlin helicopter.

DE&S Chief of Materiel (Ships), Sir Simon Bollom, said:

“THIS is another welcome milestone in the delivery of the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessel fleet – one which we are celebrating alongside our partners in the Royal Navy and industry.

We look forward to the delivery of the remaining OPVs and good progress in the Type 26 build programme.”

The work to build the new OPV fleet is sustaining jobs and the shipbuilding skills vital to the construction of the new Type 26 Frigate fleet. The first Type 26, HMS Glasgow, is currently under construction in Govan.

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.”


  1. I like them. But for all the constabulary work we do with our shorline and Brexit, net alone Gib, Falks, Med, Pirating etc. Missed opportunity. Small numbers, bespoke design, high price – same old same old.

  2. Assuming out of the 5 new vessels, the first 4 just take over duties as normal from the current batch 1 and Clyde. If the 5th one were to be forward based elsewhere as Clyde is in the Falklands now, where would it be best placed? I guess Gibraltar already has Scimitar and Sabre and is so frequently visited by other RN vessels anyway. Perhaps in the Caribbean?

    • A Bay and a River 2 in the Caribbean in hurricane season would make a lot of sense. You could preposition stores on the Bay and deliver containers to islands on the OPV assuming there is an intact jetty.

      • The Bays are well suited to delivering supplies in quantity to remote locations without jetties using their mexi rafts. This was proved in the Haiti operation some years ago and Mounts Bay is on station in the Caribbean just now for such an eventuality. A River 2 would seem be better suited alongside hosting the Cocktail Party and let the RFA get on with the real work.

        • Simply saying the Bay can’t be in two places at once. Am not familiar with Caribbean geography but might there not be a situation where a small island with an intact jetty could benefit by a sort of taxi service where the OPV takes materials from the Bay to the smaller islands?

    • Interestingly, Scimitar and Sabre are being replaced soon, but probably not by a Batch Two River. Don’t think they’ve really released any details about replacement vessels as of yet.

      • Yes, I saw the youtube video. The RN Gibraltar squadron are expecting 2 new ships which to quote the officer interviewed are going to be larger, faster, longer range and have bigger guns. Intriguing.

      • Might this be HMS Ranger and Trumpeter with upgraded engines for higher speed and the 20mm cannons off the decommissioned River 1’s?

        • Could well be – would cover the points mentioned by the officer in the video. I’ve seen no procurement plans for new builds – unless they have been put on hold for now.

          Personally, with all the incursions, I’d like to see something a bit more imposing for the Gibraltar Squadron.

          • I am not familiar with the waters but I would think dash acceleration is an important requirement for interception. If so this might rule out both R1 and R2. A 20mm cannon would be a substantial increase in deterrence over the current GPMGs. One shell on the waterline or mast of a large ship would make your point.

    • replace my poor old boat(sabre)with a drilled squadron of archers. poor old sabre must be totally worn out.

  3. We need to keep the batch one river class vessels as well.
    Patrol ship fleet needs to be a lot bigger to meet requirements post Brexit to secure our EEZ

    • Agreed. Like to see a 76mm on them too for nominal AA/AS/ship to shore bombardment capability, giving a little more flexibility & survivability in wartime.

      • the rivers are almost the size of some countries corvettes it would only take political willpower to upgrade them to the same specs as a sigma corvette the newest sigma is 10 meters longer than a river ,needs 20 more crew comes with a 76mm gun, two triple torpedo launchers 4 exocet, two quad launchers for anti air capability and our ships are alreadty built a quick ‘fitting out to specs like the sigma could see the R.N grow almost immediatly by 9 corvettes/light frigates. yes please.

    • we could actually gain some real use for a squadron of archers doing naval work and not being used as ‘fanny’ boats for hooray henry’s at universities.

  4. I think the 5th B2 River Class OPV should be used to patrol UK waters.
    I have mixed views over the B1 vehicles … but do we really need more vessels of a similar size and manpower for patrolling UK territorial waters … personally I think the answer is no … but seems such a waste of a far from life-expired asset. Gibraltar seemingly has new patrol vessels due, and adding new patrol requirements abroad at the current time seems pure stupidity.
    If we do need more vessels to patrol UK waters I think they should be something along the lines of … cheaper to run, smaller crew which is important given current staffing issue. Why do we need bigger boats to supplement B2 Rivers when realistically the only requirements will be to stop drugs, human trafficking, and fishery protection … the latter mainly responsibility of the B2.
    Only issue would be the capital cost … would 5-6 of these place too bigger hole on an already under-the-counter capital expenditure programme?

    • Agreed. Or put another way, there’s plenty of low level RN work that we shouldn’t be using high end warships for. They are also a great career gateway to the warships.

  5. Post brexit we should order another 3 to be able to cope with extra deployments to Gibraltar, the caribbean and 2 more for home water patrols.
    This would compliment the T31 and alow for more the higher end (T31) ships to be deployed on higher end taskings .

  6. I read before that at some point the RN will sell these off to free up crew as they never wanted them to begin with but were forced to take them due to HMG’s obligation to BAE. Any one know if this is still the plan?

    • I guess if anything is to be sold off we might as well keep the batch 2s and sell the batch 1s. Obviously ideal situation would be to keep a fleet of 9 as they would give tremendous flexibility and free up larger vessels for other tasks. But in terms of freeing up crew I Don’t think the batch 2s require considerably more than the batch 1s? Had the fortune to go on HMS Forth last week – not been on a batch 1 so can’t really compare, but Forth was not small, gave off quite a bit of presence so I think the RN will want to retain them rather than sell them off for minimal benefit of freeing up crew.

    • Calling the R2 River Class is a bit misleading. They are a substantial enhancement on R1 in terms of size, range, speed, armament, comfort, helicopter operarions and combat survivability. I see them as capable of comfortably performing the Falklands patrol, Somali anti piracy, fleet ready escort, Caribbean drug intercepts and hurricane relief as well as UK fisheries and smuggling duties. They are lean manned and I think they will free up at least 2 frigates and prove to be invaluable assets. Looking at the video on the sacetheroyal navy site it seems crew accomodation is generous. And in an expeditionary role there is room for 50 RM.

      • If they were to do the Fleet ready escort role, then they would need to ask the Russians not to sail to fast in case they out ran them….

        • Lol. Somehow I don’t think the Russians are going to get into a yacht race in crowded seas. And 30 knots versus 15 doesn’t do a lot for your fuel consumption have to have enough to get home.

  7. I can envisage a River 2 being forward based in Duqm. Its about 1500 miles from there to an anti piracy patrol off Somalia.

  8. Could 2 x River 1’s replace Gib squadron? They still have life and would save building costs with a very small uplift in manpower.

  9. Talking of new ships does anyone know if RFA Tidesurge is in trouble? She was ages getting to Panama, then she anchored for the best part of a week South of the canal. She then passed through but made straight for St Johns Antigua and has been at anchor again there for a few days. I see she had an hour’s run today but returned to anchor.

    The first two made very quick time from Korea to Falmouth and this seems out of kilter …??

  10. Why arent we making these more lethal?

    We need one with a price tag of 100m. Ones we can buy enough of to network together in the battlespace, with unmaned systems and armed with a flexible missle and self defence package.

    Minimally crewed, but with space for enough marines to pack a punch or humanitarian use cases.

    Buy 15 of them for $1.5B and network them together to protect or hold at risk a huge area. Export the design using other countries systems where possible. Profit.

  11. It sounds like glasgow needs more capacity. Could be a great opportunity to invest in next gen manufacturing, i’d love to see a factory that could build different ship sections with as much automation as possible. The kind of factory that could be duplicated and spread around maybe.

    • Put it into perspective – They fitted a 57mm 6 Pounder to the nose of the Mosquito XVIII in WWII and it killed U Boats and Frigates. Called the ‘Tsetse’ …

      • Same gun as fitted to the Motor Gun Boats of WW2 but used to the longer barrel.

        BAE systems produce a 57mm gun that is used on the US Navy Littoral ships. It was originally designed by Bofors and is a redesign of the 40mm. It should be seen as a multipurpose gun as can also be used for anti-missile defense.

        • Here’s a thought… “always use an appropriate level of technology for the job.”
          Rather than spend £squillions on stuff, re-visit what has gone before and get max bangs per buck from proven tech.

          e.g. re-make a batch of Mossies. Say 4 or 5 Squadrons worth. Slightly modify with a bit of anti-RADAR paint, ejector seats etc. Equip with whatever the role requires, including network/swarm air defence etc. and suddenly you have a very capable maritime patrol, anti-sub/ship, air defence, bomber capability in numbers with all your F35s, P8s, doing the clever stuff.

          All for MoD change found down the back of the sofa in comparison to the usual over-priced over spec’d stuff.

  12. We should be keeping the batch 1 rivers as fisheries/boarder vessels. They are nearly new and very economical to run. Stick a RN contingent on them to maintain the gun.

  13. If we are not keeping them I would like to see the batch 1 Rivers go to the Phillipines to help them patrol their soveriegn seas against Chinese incursions.

  14. Sorry Paul.
    I think the RN can easily find a use for them and should definetly retain them for all the reasons of tuned above.

    • As I say, if we are not keeping them. I have previously argued that we retain them or at least one or two. I don’t think 5 is enough. But if by selling them off we could argue a couple more and better armed Type 31 and also avoid reducing Type 26 from 8 to 6 then I would be persuaded to let them go. These trade offs are above my pay grade.


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