The Royal Navy is preparing to support the monitoring and protection of UK fisheries after Britain leaves the EU, having taken delivery of the first of five next-generation Offshore Patrol ships for the fleet.
HMS Forth is the first of five state-of-the-art Royal Navy vessels designed for fishery protection, as well as counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defence duties.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“The Royal Navy has a proud tradition of protecting the UK’s coastline and keeping a close eye on our fishing waters. With these state-of-the-art, vastly capable ships we stand ready to protect our fisheries once Britain leaves the EU.”
The River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) production line is moving apace with the £116m ships emerging at around six-month intervals.
The Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron is expecting a further two ships – HMS Medway and Trent – to be handed over later this year, with the remaining two – HMS Tamar and Spey – expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020. Just last week HMS Trent was formally named at the Glasgow shipyard where she was built.
They will become the Royal Navy’s eyes and ears around the UK, helping to safeguard fishing stocks. They will also assist in reassuring and protecting the Falkland Islands and are capable of deploying to the Mediterranean and Caribbean to uphold UK interests around the world.
Last week the Treasury announced that the MoD will receive a portion of a £12.7m fund from the Government’s Brexit preparation allocation to support work with DEFRA on maintaining the UK’s fisheries. The MoD is working closely with other government departments like DEFRA to determine the optimum deployment of these extremely flexible vessels.