The Royal Navy have announced that HMS Spey has left Portsmouth, beginning the journey to joining her sisters as fully-fledged members of the Overseas Patrol Squadron.

Commanding Officer Ben Evans said in a Royal Navy news release.

“The ship’s company and I have been enjoying a succession of firsts with HMS Spey, and there will be more to come as we build towards the excitement of our first operational deployment.”

The Royal Navy added:

“That deployment will be announced at the appropriate time, but Fleet Operational Sea Training will need to be successfully negotiated later this year after the ship’s company have grown accustomed to their new home.

The fifth and final of the second-generation of River-class ships built for the Royal Navy, Spey arrived in Portsmouth in October under the Blue Ensign as a ship in public service but was yet to enter the Royal Navy. That changed in early January when the White Ensign replaced Blue.”

When Spey becomes operationally active she will be the eighth Offshore Patrol Vessel vessel in the Royal Navy fleet with HMS Forth, Medway currently on operations in the South and North Atlantic and Mediterranean respectively. The other patrol vessels are active in UK waters.

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I wonder if it would be feasible to equip these vessels with Martlet in times of emergency? Such a ‘close-in ‘ support weapon should aid the ship’s survival chances considerably.


Why would you need that type of weapon on these type of ships? They are not designed for naval warfare. They are meant to monitor maritime traffic, deal with pirates, illegal fishing, migration, smuggling, etc…
And in “times of emergency” as you mentionned, you can always have a Wildcat helicopter equipped with Martlet or Sea Venom
Best to spend money on improving T31 equipment than modifying OPVs for a role they are not suited for.

Robert Blay

Well said mate.

Andy P

^^^ Wot Robert and LT say, we’re not Russian so there’s no need to try and squeeze as many weapon systems on as we can on them. While these vessels have a considerable tonnage, they’re not really warships, leave them be to do the constabulary work. They’re simple and cheap (to run if not build) platforms that give the UK a presence. They’re not exactly toothless, a 30 mil round will ruin most peoples day.

Last edited 9 days ago by Andy P

Andy P, tell that to the crew…..I know what I’d say!

Andy P

What, do you think the crew want, more guys onboard to maintain all these extra weapons ??? It makes scran busier and generally the boat more full of people.

Might come as a bit of a news flash but most matelots aren’t that bothered about having a vessel bristling with weapons. Runs ashore and an easy life are right up there on the priorities.


Well smoking is now completely banned on all vessels… Vaping only in one location on the upper deck. The RN at sea is now a Tobbaco free zone.

Just don’t stop the beer!!!
Jack and Jenny would not be happy campers especially as runs ashore are a non starter at present.

Robert Blay

The crew would rather have a bigger beer fridge 😆


Beer and Wine fridge….

Andy P

Morning GB, Robert, aye, you have to go careful with that beer (and wine), you wouldn’t want to fail your mile and a half, its the most important thing in the navy apparently…

After covering the upper scupper in bang sticks of course. 😉


Robert….. a refrigerated shipping container strapped to the deck would work…….🍺

Robert Blay

hmm, not sure that would be big enough 😄🍻

Mark B

I have to say I’m with Maurice on this one. If they are needed to go to war they should be capable of being armed to the teeth not brushed aside. They may need to hold the fort for a while.

Also I think that future platforms are going to get smaller and pack a larger punch. It is exactly what other Countries will do – or are we going to have to play catch up when the penny drops?

Andy P

As for your second paragraph Mark B, current vessel build would suggest the opposite, ships in a ‘class’ are getting bigger, the armament isn’t changing much. There is also less crew, certainly in ‘The West’ so it frees up more space for other ‘stuff’, it doesn’t seem to be a massive increase in weapons, much as us armchair admirals might want it. For your first paragraph, you have to remember, these vessels aren’t constantly at war and are home to people , albeit a temporary one, for 99% of the time you’re not at war or even on work up… Read more »

Mark B

On that basis Andy perhaps future ships should be built by Cunard. The whole point of a warship in peacetime is to deter a potential enemy. Making it comfortable for the crew is secondary – do the crew really want their best chance of survival to be because they are no threat and not worth the effort to sink her!

Andy P

Mark I’ll give you the courtesy of a reply but you’re well off on a tangent here. I replied to a post saying “ask the crew” and as an ex matelot and being the crew on a number of war canoes, some grey but mostly black, the crews priorities are different to the Admiralty’s. Look at it this way, if you want to keep matelots then you need to look after them, there’s a reason we’ve moved from hammocks slung wherever to big mess decks to smaller mess decks. I guess that doesn’t fit your thoughts though as you’ve gone… Read more »

Mark B

Andy don’t take offence mate my original comment was to your first comment not the second. That might be why you think I am off on a tengent. Maurice was saying our warships should be properly armed (or capable of being upgraded quickly if a change of role is required) and I tend to agree with him and consequently I said so.

The Cunard comment was merely done to make a point with a little humour. I am all for making the living conditions for the crew second to none.

Andy P

Morning Mark, fair do’s, apologies. If you look at the vessels they have replaced (Island’s, Hunts etc) they have equivalent weaponry. Just because they’re a couple of thousand tons and not 500 doesn’t mean that they need to carry more or bigger weapons, it just means they’re better appointed (maybe not Cunard standard 😉 ) and better sea keeping vessels with ‘longer legs’. The role of these vessels isn’t likely to change, they’re designed and built as OPV’s not ‘proper’ warships. I’m not ideologically against them having bigger or more numerous weapons as such but I’m not sure there’s going… Read more »

Paul C

Exactly. This obsession with up-gunning OPVs is in danger of becoming a threat to the health and well-being of the nation.


At the end of the day, these ships are naval and subject to the same threats as any other ship of the line, in certain circumstances. My question was not if these ships should be armed with Martlet but could they be? I know the primary role of this class but you can not exclude them from operating in hostile waters, hence my question. As for Wildcat, that’s if one is around when, and if, there is a confrontation. Pigeonholing defence weapons based on role could leave these vessels exposed unnecessarily?

Robert Blay

I think we can trust the professionals in the RN to know what to do with these vessels.

John Stott

I like that, remember HMS Cornwall? The “professional sailor” who whined the Iranians had confiscated his iPod…Only the marines came out of that episode with their heads held high. Sorry but since 1982 when risk aversion took root in naval leadership its been downhill. These are nothing but grey boats with a little gun, part of Boris’s “global Britain”. I know a few Russians, they are laughing their heads off.

David Barry

Why do people always ask us to trust the Braid?

Their performance has been lamentable and the Treasury have assisted them in being so.

John Stott

Third rate people thats why.

Robert Blay

A post like that tells me you know nothing about the RN. And we’ll have a bigger laugh at the fleet of tugs that follows most Russian vessels on the high seas.

John Stott

Really? Tell that to the Toms who had no air cover because of RN admirals in 82…as for the Russian friends? They are still laughing.

Robert Blay

Conflict expert are you? I think not.

John Stott

Did a bit.

Robert Blay

And i suppose you would have been Billy big bollocks with an Iranian 50cal in your face. 🤦‍♂️

John Stott

You are a very triggered individual, seek help.

Robert Blay

😄 that’s a good one. I’m just good at spotting the guys full of Shit.

John Stott

I am a Rhodesian and lead a sheltered life.


My thoughts precisely, I would prefer to see them armed at the very least with the 76mm oto melara gun.


these vessels were not wanted by the RN, they were a stop gap to fill a void in the contractual commitments due to HMG delays in approving T26.

Whilst I am sure the RN will put these vessels to work, I do not support your statement as too often decisions are made based upon cost not requirements and needs

John Stott

These “grey things” were indeed a sop to industry. Can’t upset the complex too much, or stop the money stream lol.

Robert Blay

It also keeps people in job’s, and the skills up to scratch until we start building the next round of warships.


Mountpleasant Boys High in th early 60’s. Where did you school John?


Also the means to operate a chopper on these vessels is very limited due to the lack of a hangar so they need to be in range of land or a mother ship.


No adversary in war will pass up the chance of sinking any of our ships just because we classify them as OPVs or whatever. They all need to have a chance of survival & should be designed with that in mind.

Last edited 7 days ago by Frank62

Absolutely Frank62, a point lost on some of our friends I fear. Categorisation and what gets what weapon system melts away when an incoming missile is targeted to blow your ship out of the water, regardless of size and function.

Supportive Bloke

It is dangerous over arming a ship, people then start to think it is something that it is not. It then gets sent somewhere semi hot like the Gulf and it hasn’t neither the survivability nor the electronics fit to do heavy work.

Ships are valuable: crews are priceless.

The hulls are the cheap bit. It is all the gubbins that goes into it to make it a warship that is expensive.

So I’m with Templar: spend the money on making the T31 a fully fledged frigate. As a platform T31 is a proper warship.


“SEMI HOT LIKE THE GULF” …. its a pleasant 20 degs right now at 0800 as I wait for a work required random covid test


Haha. Spent some time myself out there, Kuwait, KSA, UAE, Oman. Always thought they calibrated the thermometer 3-4 degrees down as I swear it was over 50C on some days.


Of course they do, once it reaches 50 everyone outside has to down tools, so it never reaches 50!


because some of the ‘pirates’ operating in places such as the Malacca Straights, Bay of Bengal or Andaman Sea etc come armed with 30mm, 40mm or even 56mm weapons. No issues of P vessel being attacked or Vessels the P is escorting being attached but if a ‘P’ vessel armed with 20mm or 30mm intervened in an already ongoing incident things could get messy. Those onboard the ‘Pirate’ vessel will not allow themselves to be captured as they would risk facing the death penalty. Those involved are generally part of certain local navies by day and become opportunistic pirates by… Read more »


Pirates in the Malacca Straits with 40 – 56 mm guns on their boats? I have lived on an island in the Malacca Straits/Andaman Sea since 2009, and I have 2 boats, 1 x 34 ft and 1 x 37 ft. I have never seen pirates here with 56 mm guns on their boats. Illegal fishing boats with Burmese slave labour? yes. Marine police and national park ranger boats looking for the occasional cash bribe, fish, or bottle of whisky? yes. Pirates in the Malacca Straits with 56 mm guns on their boats? rubbish. Where did you see those well-armed… Read more »


I can assure you that vessels my employers had contracted out of Singapore for operations in Bay of Bengal got shot up by a naval vessel in the malacca straights. Vessels were towing rig out of Singapore They used 0.5 cal to get their intentions understood but had significantly larger ordanance available ! I won’t go into too much details but anti piracy procedures were activated and fortunately no one was hurt Tow Master had made schoolboy error taking tow closer to shore to pick up terrestial TV under pressure from [email protected] Rig tow is very slow…only 4kts typically and… Read more »


Lol been watching too many movies. What 56mm naval gun are you reffering to? There are a lot of calibers available, but that is the first i hear of this.
Any links to back up these bold claims? Seriously they would be lucky to have a 50cal. More likely, it’s poor people in crappy boats armed with second hand AKs and machetes


The same argument crops up here in Australia regularly.

The 13 x 57m Armidale class PBs (25mm Bushmaster and 2 x .50 cal MG), are being replaced with 12 x 80m Arafura class OPVs (40mm OTO Marlin and 2 x .50 cal MGs), and of course some want them to be up gunned and turned into OCVs.

Isn’t going to happen, and especially when they are intended for constabulary duties, not frontline operations.

And of course the question is, where does the money and manpower come from? What frontline project has to be robbed?


Peter S

An RN admiral ( forget which one, we have so many!) went public last year about upgunning the R2 and the 30 cal/ Martlet combination was mentioned. It would be a low cost option with no extra manning needed. If you look at how the Khareef class are armed, there are options.
Funny how a ship that by all accounts the navy didn’t want is proving so useful. Perhaps removing senior officers from procurement decisions might be an improvement?


The rumour is the RN wasn’t particularly happy with the Martlet/30mm combo when trialed.

If it was a problem with both sharing the same mount then i’m sure separate mounts with missile canisters could be devised and fitted but i think it’s more likely that it just wasn’t deemed worthwhile.

I think the best course of action would be to develop a smallish rotary UAV that can be used for surveillance across the fleet but could then be fitted with stuff like Marlet when deployed on the River’s if necessary.

Rob Collinson

I agree totally Challenger.


S100 camcopter perhaps, not sure if the martlet it was pictured with was just photo op?comment image


About a week ago, GB posted a piece on the DS30M/Martlet trial that was carried out on HMS Sunderland (T23). The trial was a success, in that it destroyed a number of unmanned fast inshore craft and a couple of airborne drones. However, the possibly problem was the backblast from the Martlet when launched. By the sounds of it, the exhaust flame is rather long and was striking various parts of the ship. The below link is to “Save the Royal Navy (Navy Lookout)”. It shows the the combination mount and a Martlet launching plus its exhaust flame. The DS30M… Read more »


This might be the optimum way to go….

RM shoulder launched Martlet from the ship’s deck. I think there may be a pedestal launched version too. All modelled on Starstreak launch methods I imagine,

Levi Goldsteinberg

Any news on what happened to the two OPVs supposedly being permanently garrisoned in Singapore? Everything went very quiet on that front


Not sure. I can’t really see the value of such a move. It would be much better to forward base a single T23 out there as with Montrose in The Gulf – that’s if the general squeeze on the fleet allowed for such a commitment and subject to whether any frigates are cut in the upcoming review.

Andy P

Would guess the ‘simpler’ Rivers would be easier to support than a complex warship. At the end of the day whether its a frigate or an OPV (or two) its a token gesture, probably a welcome one by a lot of Chinas neighbours.


Perhaps, but i think either way the wharf at Singapore is going to get busier with the CSG becoming a semi regular visitor so it should be well placed to support a T23. Agree anything would be largely symbolic but a T23 which is then replaced by a T31 would at least be better able to measure up to PLAN vessels or aircraft with AAW systems, embarked helicopters and (hopefully) AShM’s. The River’s are great assets but are built to operate in benign regions like The West Indies and Med conducting low-level engagement and surveillance – not tense and complicated… Read more »

Andy P

Challenger, whether its a a T45 or an OPV, it will be out numbered so if we’re talking ‘sacrificial lamb’ then you might as well make it a small one. If the Chinese or anyone else was going to ‘gub’ a RN warship that is there as a presence then why waste a ‘big one’. Its kind of inverted ‘gunboat diplomacy’ but unless we’re there in numbers for a ‘square go’ then its just having a skimmer with a flag on it.


Quite, we don’t want another Force Z situation where a powerful but isolated asset get’s lost all for the sake of “a show of force”

Mark F

Gunboats for diplomacy. They would make great ELINT vessels.

Supportive Bloke

Yup, but you can do ELINT on a fishing trawler………

Daniele Mandelli



I have to admit, a lot of the time I think that these could and should be transferred over to a beefed up “Coast Guard” force which rolls up SAR, fisheries, border patrol (maritime), and constabulary duties and is also repoonsible for or supports those efforts with our other territories and suchlike. Much like the US Coast Guard, in fact. I’ve not looked into it, but everything I’ve heard suggests the USCG are a rather effective and cost-effective branch of the US military. The Rivers and River B2s would be a good “cutter” for a British equivalent, and would simplify… Read more »


Since 4 are operating in UK waters, for me they make more sense in the border force/fishery protection. Anyway, uncontested waters to include UK overseas territories – call it what you like. You could fund them with home office/foreign office budgets and then the whole up-arming conversation goes away.


They can operate any of the drones that we’ve been hearing about being used by Border Force, subcontract the SAR ops out as they’ve been doing, too.

Daniele Mandelli

I agree, Joe.

I have often visualised the Coast Guard becoming more of the US version and almost being a 4th branch of the military.


Hi Daniele, Yes, while I am a big fan of tradition in many instances, the fact that one of the RN’s oldest squadrons is Fisheries Protection doesn’t mean that should continue. The government is always talking about cutting beurocracy and red tape, this would be a great way of doing so on the face of it. This feels a little like the issues surrounding cap badges and MOD bases; we don’t re-jig things because it’s always been done a certain way, and we won’t change because it’ll upset some people. In what is going to be a “budget-constrained” environment for… Read more »

Andy P

It might make sense in a lot of ways but might take a big change in law etc to organise that and give a Coast Guard the powers and Rules of Engagement’ that they would need. Would a UK CG be big enough to merit it and do the training etc… dunno.

I’m not against the idea and to be honest I’m thinking off the top of my head rather than based on research.

Daniele Mandelli

No doubt. Size? Probably not! At one time we could have amalgamated the 3 RAF SAR squadrons, 22, 202 and OCU, the RN SAR NAS ( forget which number that was ) the RN FPS and the current Coast Guard installations and ships. Add a UAV squadron ( Watchkeepers?! ) and give it a home surveillance role WRT Terrorism, illegal migration, fisheries, and so on. Base them at Lydd / Manston / RNAS Lee on Solent / RNAS Portland as examples. RAF Mountain Rescue maybe? I’d exclude the RB2’s as they are very much an overseas asset now as we… Read more »

Andy P

We can all be tempted to have a wee go at ‘fantasy fleet’, no harm in it, it only takes a turn for the ‘peculiar’ when people start losing their shit over their own views on it. I would do a laughing face thing about now but my knowledge extends as far as a wink and smile.

Daniele Mandelli


Daniele Mandelli

The “Overseas Patrol Squadron” ??

Sounds like they have been rebranding again, that sounds like a renamed Fishery Protection Squadron. RN website call it the oldest frontline squadron in the RN.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Civil servants busy doing marketing and badge changing to distract from the upcoming 10,000 soldier cut to the army the BBC reported this morning


When I look at the Batch 2 Rivers I keep wondering to upgrade them to mini frigates, keep them the same or do something diffrent. To make them into mini frigates (corvettes) the treasury might think of them as a cheap T26, so that is a bad idea. To keep them the same is a waste of ship. To do something diffrent, thats an idea. Give them a 40mm non penatrating gun, two 25mm Typhoon mounted guns, a container for a S-100 or something like and a small 8 round launcher for say Spike NLOS and Minstral, Hellfire/ Starstreak, Hellfire/Marlet… Read more »


Ron I think the future should be fitted for not with. Think about the combat system as your Iphone or Android phone. You onboard a weapons system, I’m thinking along the lines or similar to the Club K Containerised system or the NEMO 120mm gun as examples. Like your phone you then add app for the on boarded system which can used features on the vessel via the combat system like radar or other targeting systems, similar to your phone using GPS or cameras. Then you can start configuring vessel to be role fit. You buy less kit and only… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by expat

So we have one small ship in the Atlantic and another in the Med, and 5 around the UK!


A question – If on a war footing , what is the role of these OPVS? Can they deploy as MCMV’s? Blue water MCM seems to be an area that may require attention in the future.