Two of the new Offshore Patrol Vessels being built for the Royal Navy, hulls four and five, will be named HMS Tamar and HMS Spey.

While preparatory work on the two vessels has already started, the government is set to confirm the build contacts and the names  of the vessels later today.

After earlier reports that work on hull four was due to begin in November, we reached out to BAE who earlier confirmed that “preparatory” work had started on the fourth River class vessel.

The two additional vessels, hulls four and five, were announced as part of the last Strategic Defence & Security Review.

The contract worth £287 million to build two more Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy safeguards hundreds of jobs.

The Offshore Patrol Vessels have been 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”.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

“This contract will deliver two more modern Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, for the Royal Navy and safeguard vital shipbuilding skills and hundreds of jobs in Scotland.”

HMS Tamar and HMS Spey will be manufactured at the Govan shipyard before being floated to Scotstoun to be fitted out. They are expected to be delivered in 2019.


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The reference to the SDSR is funny as I don’t believe there is anything strategic in building something no one wants to fill in the schedule because you can’t actually commit to ordering equipment (T26) that is desperately needed.

What a total waste of money.


The ships are replacing existing river class ships which some of the hardest working vessels in the navy. So to say they are a waste of money is disappointingly poorly informed comment from your point of view Pacman27. They aren’t pivotal to the future of the navy but they will have useful role to play.



I do not disagree with your comments on usefulness – these assets will be used. But, and it is a big but… these vessels are only being built to fill a production gap and not out of a strategic necessity – better platforms are therefore being sacrificed. Hence it is wasteful. If this was part of a clearly defined strategy I would be less critical, but they are fillers in the production schedule and should be moved to the border force as soo as possible.


pointless ships crap design. too slow being built

andy reeves

with so much available deck space i believe they should be easily adaptable for the fit of a rim 116 ciws system,asroc ,and a proper gun as the thai navy have done to their ‘river’s


Waste of limited manpower and resources. At least two should be handed over to the border force.


The existing river class ships already do work in support of the UK border force, didn’t you know that? I suggest you read the comments by John Stevens on this issue,you might learn something.


what I’ve learnt is that the Navy doesn’t have the manpower to waste on two more OPVs when we can’t man the surface fleet as it is. Working in support of the border force means that we still have to crew the things. I re iterate my point, two of them should be handed over to the border force so they can crew them.

John Stevens

I think they could be quite useful carrying out anti drug’s smuggling and anti piracy roles. In the future they will help to take pressure off the larger Destroyers and Frigates that will be needed to escort the carriers and amphibious shipping. So say for example you had a ocean going patrol ship based in the Falkland Islands and a patrol vessel off the Horn of Africa doing the anti piracy role plus a patrol vessel or Royal fleet auxiliary ship in the north Atlantic/Caribbean area doing anti drug smuggling operations, this would free-up two Destroyers to protect the carrier… Read more »


Good, well informed post John.


I note that the patrol vessels which hardly class as warships and have virtually no military capability are to be lumped in with destroyers and frigates.
This is disingenuous to say the least and just what the Admiralty feared a short while ago.
Why not add in the little unarmed motor boats the Universities are lent.

Dave B Philips

I think the point is though that part of the Royal Navy’s commitments are to patrol waters around the world, such as the Caribbean and various anti piracy roles. These do not require sophisticated military hardware such as a 4.5 inch gun and sea viper. If anything the Royal Navy could have always used ships like these to fill important but militarily minor tasks, freeing up the Frigates and Destroyers for more important tasks. I don’t think anyone is pulling the wool over your eyes by including these boats in with the big boys and im sure we can all… Read more »


But they aren’t the same as the P2000 boats, they couldn’t be sent to undertake a Caribbean patrol for example. The new OPV’s will be able to do this role and in doing so free up other ships for more “front line” roles.


The little unarmed boats do 40+knots and carry a 20mm Oerlikon and 2 Gpmg’s which is about the same as a River batch 1, the River B1’s are likely to be heading over to the Border Force


They would have to be sent somewhere hot and not raining or rough seas as there is no hanger to protect Helo that rules out Scotland Falklands… Perhaps Gibraltar guard ship where the ship could stay in harbour all day and fire some flares and spainish fisherman mind you it has a 30 mm cannon and costs the UK Tax Payer BAE Systems received a £348m ($529m) contract for 5 ships BAE Systems also built and delivered three 90m OPV patrol ships with a similar design to the Brazilian Navy under a £133m ($202m) contract. GOOD days pay for BAE… Read more »


The costs of these ships has been extensively discussed already. Colin. Raking over it yet again and simply restating what is already known achieves nothing.


Well that is because we asked for different specifications than the the Brazilian Navy. People tend to look at the shiny stuff on the outside but have you thought to consider software upgrades and differences in internals such as computers and engine mangenment equipment. These are expensive pieces if equipment and our contracts may also included clauses to fix any future problems or paying for future upgrade packages. There can be more to a warship than is obvious on the outside


I think as has been mentioned before multiple times. The navy is under hulled and really seriously stretched standing duty wise. If we can put a few of these covering lower intensity roles to show the flag and keep the warships spare for more important roles, then its a winner. Ok we should have got better value for money from them, but the cost is what it is, and so lets focus on making the most of them and the most out of the overall limited hulls.


Maybe the UK can make a deal with the USCG on the NSC hull that mounts a 57 mm Bofor’s gun


Create a new Coast Guard split into four sections. Fisheries Protection, Border Protection, Search & Rescue and Overseas Territories Protection under the Naval Service. Overseas Territories Protection will have two permanent squadrons (Falklands, Gibraltar) and at least one other to fly the flag between all other territories. All the OPVs (Batch 1+2) to be transferred to Fisheries (3), Border (3) and Overseas Territories Protection (3). All SFPA boats to be transferred to Fisheries (3?). All Coast Guard assets to S&R. Build 4 single class replacements from Foreign Aid budget for Ocean, Bulwark, Albion with one loaned to S&R at any… Read more »


I fear the latter Gerard; rumour has it two may be sold off before even entering service as the RN neither asked for them nor wants them. Whilst I agree they have some value in freeing up escorts, they are not warfighting ships and are purely an overpriced political buy! The British taxpayer gets the shaft again!


We have four river class ships to be replaced by five new builds. So if we sell two then we will be down to three. Including the Falklands patrol
ship. Not a clever idea David.


They are useful ships which can used in a variety of roles, they are larger and more capable than the ships the replace. They have a 30mm automatic gun a manually aimed 20mm and acomodation for a 50 person Embarked Military Force . They were never designed as peer to peer warships, but they are an efficient way of getting more hulls to sea with cost effective crew levels and running costs. They can patrol Mediterranean, Caribbean and South Atlantic where a destroyer or frigate simply isn’t needed.


Fantasy Gerard and unrealistic.


The part i don’t get is why we build such basic ships. We agreed to build them to keep the ship yards open, but surely we could have build something that had more potential, even if it wasn’t fully fitted for ability, but had the potential for it. Making 2 more advanced ships would surely have taken as long to build as 4 less ones and maintain the same number of jobs.


Yet another opportunity missed, these ships built to cover political and MoD failures will be as effective as a cat flap in an elephant house. Not needed, wanted or useful! They have drained hundreds of millions of pounds from the defence budget to replace OPV’s that were not needed in the first place and so young they don’t need replacing. Even given the serious mistakes made on political/private sector monopolisation agreements these ships should have been built to the khareef standard, they would have offered a ship, even with minimal capability, a global policing capability that would have helped our… Read more »


What Fallon and BAE sytems should have built for the RN is the Buyan-class corvette Armament: 1 × 100 mm A-190 [3] 2 × 30 mm AK-630 (AK-630-M2 in 21631) 1 × 40 retractable A-215 “Grad-M” (only 21630) 2 × 4 UKSK VLS cells with Kalibr-NK system or P-800 Onix (only 21631) 1 × 4 3M47 Gibka (only 21630) 2 × 4 Komar (only 21631)[4] Displacement: 500 tons standard 949 tons full 62 m (203 ft) 75 m (246 ft) Beam: 9.6 m (31 ft) 11 m (36 ft) Height: 6.57 m (22 ft) Draft: 2 m (7 ft) (21630)[1]… Read more »


The weapons you mentioned aren’t on all the Buyan-class ships which have a range about a quarter of the new RN OPV”s we don’t need a Buyan type of vessel at all for a variety of reasons.

Mr J Bell

The new x5 River class batch 2 vessels are a step in the tight direction. Giving the RN a much needed boost in hull numbers. They should free up our under strength frigate and destroyer fleet. However all is not rosy. As a non military civillian and British national I am very very worried about the state of our national defences. We no longer gave the full spectrum of war fighting abilities. If we are going to turn this around the Royal navy especially needs urgent governmental input. An urgent operational requirement to construct as soon as possible 8-10 type… Read more »


The two new OPV’s are costed at £143.5m each (£287m contract)

I would love to know how this fairs against a MEKO A200 or a C-Sword 90 as surely this is the type of ship we should be building ( I know these are significantly different but that is the point of comparing)


Its a premium we pay to keep shipbuilding skills in the UK. Thanks to governments not ordering enough ships and relying on one contractor who has to assume any planned numbers will be cut. Like our 12-18 Type 45s.


@Gerard I think you have hit the nail on the head – wastage and incompetence on a massive scale. The costs of the T45 would have been closer to £600m if we had built even 12, instead all of those sunken cost got added to the six making them £1bn each and not even fully fitted out. For the life of me I don’t know why we don’t commit to an escort force of 40 ships and keep on evolving the design unless we are sure there is a game changing design that is worth taking a risk on. I… Read more »


A great idea but there simply isn’t the will or care within the government to do anything more than what we have now. Fallon will continue to spout the 178Bn investment…. blah, blah, blah….. which everyone knows is total crap. It pains me to say it – because our finest young men and women in uniform deserve so much better – but it will sadly take a Falklands-style incident that we will loose before the government wakes up to the reality that cut after cut after cut has hollowed out our Armed Forces to the point where nothing of substance… Read more »


David, I know and the sad thing is so do the Govt. Our fleet is now so old and outdated (despite the PR blitz stating the opposite) we have a once in a generation ability to renew our capability. Do we need Minehunters – No…. the new Atlas Arcims remote suite will sort mine hunting out for us and can be deployed from an escort or other platform. The fact is we are happy to waste money on sub standard products in too few numbers and then blame industry for not absorbing the costs associated to an order for 16… Read more »

Scrimshaw Alleyhopper

If these could have been redesigned/built with an ever so small hangar for an odd knock off Lynx to embark on, add 10m in length and another 500 tons, then you’ve a patrol vessel worth having and able to take over the simple duties from a naval warship.

Embarked aviation makes all the difference in the world.

Right now, these are just about green water coast guard material.


As has been said about 1000 times, these ships would be infinitely more useful with a hanger, even an empty one is useful if the enemy doesn’t know. The Chileans have just launched something that looks just like a river class but with a hanger. We’ve had at least 6 years to design something suitable,how hard can it be?
Wouldn’t it be much better if we did away with the border and customs boats and just gave the job to the navy?It would give young officer’s a chance and the surplus older ones something to do.


Should have built ‘Holland class’ OPVs instead of these little tiddlers

And the unit cost is scandalous.


@Joe The Holland class are so much more advanced than our OPV’s that it is embarrassing and from what I believe cheaper too. I am also very concerned that we will repeat this with the T31 which has to be better than a MEKO A200, CSword 90 and the new FTI. If it isn’t then we really should move away from BAE. I don’t mind us being a bit more expensive but given the option I would rather have a fully loaded FREMM or Iver Huitfeldt than a T45 or T26. Both are exceptional ships and we need to stop… Read more »


Not one named after our Caitals River The Thames.