Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence, Guto Bebb has revealed that £12.7M had been allocated from the EU Exit Preparedness Fund to preserve the three Batch 1 River class ships, should they be needed to control and enforce UK waters and fisheries following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Written Statement of 13 March 2018, Spring Statement, HCWS 540, if he will publish a list of where the £12.7 million allocated to his Department to realise the opportunities from EU exit will be spent.”

Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:

“The Ministry of Defence has now been allocated £12.7 million in 2018-19 for essential EU exit preparations. This will fund preserving three Off-Shore Patrol Vessels, should they be needed to control and enforce UK waters and fisheries. It also includes some EU Exit preparedness funding for UK defence bases in Europe. As with all HMT Reserve funding, finalised allocations will be confirmed at Supplementary Estimates 2018-19 in early 2019.”

Earlier in the year, Bebb revealed the running cost of the Batch 1 vessels in response to a written question:

“The cost of operating a River Class Offshore Patrol Batch 2 Vessel will be determined by the specific operational programmes of the ships when they enter service. We have used the cost of the current in service Batch 1 Offshore Patrol Vessels as the basis of our planning which is £6.5 million per year.”

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Quote from Feb,
Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:

“The average annual running cost for a Type 23 Frigate and a Type 45 Destroyer is approximately £11 million and £13.5 million respectively. These figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000.”

So how does an OPV cost £20 million to run a year??


Probably £20m for the three of them together


It’s because the 20 million figure quoted includes deprecation so it is not a true reflection of the annual running cost. So if the ship cost was £150m and life was 10 years, that’s a £10m per year deprecation cost.

I think this £20m per year cost is not a true reflection of the actual cost of running a River class, the real cost will be much less.

Really good news, though as always manning will be the real test!

andy reeves

parking costs in port.


Parking costs? Really ?

andy reeves

nothings for free thesedays


Suggests “retention” does not, at least initially, mean “use”


£20m for the River Class – 4 ships in class, so approx £5m per ship, perhaps?


Agreed. £20m is too high for a relatively small, modern-ish, lightly-crewed, lightly-armed vessel.

andy reeves

these designs never reached their potential, they are a lot bigger than they look. they were all upgradable to a corvette, will we really need these ships , when pierre and sergio come to pinch our fish again.

The Snowman

I read the statement as “£20m for the class”, as in for all vessels. 4 vessels gives £5m per year.
That would match the original 2001 £60m contract with VT that provided 3 vessels for 5 years, giving £4m per vessel per year.
Inflation could stretch £4m in 2001, to £5m in 2009, to £6m in 2018?
So, full running costs for 2 for a year? Or, as suggested in the article, probably 3 in readiness? Minimal fuel and crewing costs if they aren’t taken out much?

andy reeves

in readiness? in case a large fleet of frenchies try and nick our fish?


Would that be Hms Clyde and two others ?


No, BAE own Clyde , it would be the 3 Original


Interesting, I can see the R1 ships being retained for home waters, but more T23’s being mothballed over the next few years until the RN recruitment and retention issues are resolved. The R2’s will then be used in the anti drug/piracy/people trafficking role providing they are in low risk environments.


Agree. Three T23s mothballed or sold and a River 2 for Falklands, Caribbean, Med and Somalia duties.

Lee H

3 is the max, 2 the probability.
2 along side at Pompey and RN is still fulfilling all tasking. Crewing system also different on patrol boats.

andy reeves

a drilled squadron of archers fitted with the 20mm cannon they were designed for, could do anything a river can.

Mike Saul

This is good news, should be retained for home waters patrol.

[…] post Three River class Offshore Patrol vessels may be retained ‘should they be needed to control UK… appeared first on UK Defence […]


I think this is another small win for Mr Williamson.

In this case he’s sneaking extra money from other budgets to retain a capability which would otherwise have been lost (sale to Brazil was mooted), even though at this stage it looks like the vessels are being held in reserve rather than added to the operating fleet.

Still, it allows for additional flexibility in the MDR.


Agree entirely.


Keeping them on extended readiness is better than not having them at all as previously expected.

Perhaps the reduction from £20m to £12.7m comes from economies of scale realised by the introduction of the five Batch 2 vessel.

David Steeper

Guys this is good news take it as that. We haven’t been exactly awash with it recently have we ?

andy reeves

using such resources to watch dodgy fishing?£20m could be better used in updating married quarters which in portsmouth are dire to say the least, our service people deserve far better.


In theory at least that should come under a different budget pool, infrastructure. There’s been a chronic lack of spending in that area for years, and guess what, it’s going to cost more now in total to upgrade.


£3bn per annum is not a small amount of money, Once again I think it is being misspent

At the end of the day if the government spent £1bn on renewing a significant base each year £1bn on major improvements to 10 others (not in line in the next 5 years for the big overhaul) and £1bn on the rest we wouldn’t have such shockingly bad housing or other facilities.

Time to just get on and sort some of this stuff out one item at a time I think.

andy reeves

its one area that may slow down the navy manpower loss.

Daniele Mandelli

What is the catch though?

Where is the manpower for these Rivers and the new River B2?

Taken from cut T23’s or LPD’s?

Definite loss for me if they are cut and the Rivers retained.


I read the article as if the Rivers will be mothballed / on extended readiness as opposed to sold. A temporary ‘win’ and justified using Brexit negotiations to use part of that budget. I expect its to give Mr Williamson and the MOD time for their review.

Daniele Mandelli

If that is indeed the case, which seems logical, then agree it is a win. But longer term if they are retained what gives to crew them.

A real win is all 3 retained plus our other assets.

andy reeves

put a 76mm on them and base 5 in gibraltar. my old sabre must be held together with tape.and totally worn out

Andy G

Thats how i read it too

andy reeves

i’d swap the existing scimitars at gibraltar with 20mm armed squadron of archers.


I see this move as very helpful for the RN is getting through a transition period of Type 23 to Type 26/31 with a manning crisis. Disregarding the skills mix and just considering numbers, laying up just one Type 23 could crew 3 River 1s. This is valuable wiggle room. The River 1s could continue to do fisheries while the River 2s do Caribbean drug runs, Med immigrants and Somali anti piracy as well as the Falklands. Interestingly HMS Forth crew think highly of their rotas, engineering systems and accomodation compared to Type 23. I think Brexit is the… Read more »

Bloke down the pub

Not beyond the realm of possibilities that the batch 1s could be operated with civilian crews. Any hoo, this seems like a rare bit of common sense on somebody’s part.


Transfer to RFA?

Andy G

Coastguard maybe?

David Steeper

Agree Andy.


Although I applaud Mr Williamson for this win it does seem to me to be buying time rather than an outright victory. The cash is from the £12.7m of the Brexit preparedness fund allocated to defence where £6.5m might be used to retain the B1s and the rest on other things like rejigging European bases etc. The thing is though, we’re not going to be exiting the EU every year, it is a one-off event and so I assume this preparedness budget is also a non-recurring budget item hence surely this allocation would fund the R1s for a single year… Read more »


Let’s just wait and see, shall we? No need to be so gloomy before we actually know more.

Mr Bell

Good- it was utterly nonsensical to propose scrapping or selling off offshore patrol vessels when the Royal Navy and Coastguard/ border force have one of the smallest current patrol forces for the size of our coastline in the world. We need to not only retain these vessels but press them back into service. £20 million is the yearly running cost for the entire class, small price to pay to keep our fishing, offshore wind (becoming a very, very important resource now) and gas/ oil industry sites secure and policed. The B1’s have plenty they could be doing- there are areas… Read more »


At face value its good news. We certainly need the capacity for patrolling the fishing grounds post-Brexit (transition period).

However, in a political climate where in Defence the country robs Peter to pay Paul, this could leade to early T23 mothballings or even delay in ordering T26 #4 to #8 or ANY T31s…


It’s sound politics. The world has been going more than a bit south for the last decade and although slow on the uptake the British media and public are just about starting to realise that we again have an existential threat on our doorstep. Let’s be honest the on costs for running of these vessels is peanuts and they are all paid for so no capital or development cost. That’s three extra grey boats for pocket money. Tough on security the party of defence growing the number of navel vessels. As an aside if it means the batch twos get… Read more »


It’s great news, and perhaps they should think about giving the Royal Naval Reserve the use of a couple of them, 1 at Portsmouth / Devonport, 1 at Faslane.

Bill Edmead

I can see no where else to place this, but and Gibraltar as well! Draw a line in the sand. Put three river class vessels there. Gib is British. Tbe cap badge of the royal marines would be redundant if it were anything else!
No compromise, no surrender of BRITISH sovereign territory.
Mrs May over to you.


My sentiments exactly ! I’ve been saying for months that we should have at least one batch one here in Gibraltar……

Andy G

Is she proposing we give up gib?

Dan S

In regards to manning etc, why not let the RNR have them, they can use them for their 2 week annual Camp, rather than not having a sea role. Give them a small permanent instructor compliment, maybe some reserves on full time reserve service and then everyone does annual camp on them, like they do in Canada. It would work out at least 2, maybe even 3 would be in full time use 320 days a years, as they are currently. For the RN it wouldn’t be that much of a constraint on manning keeping them in service then They… Read more »


As recruitment is struggling surely something like a territorial rn could be created those who are think of joining the rn but don’t want to be away from home for long deployments possibly part-time unless option is in the naval reserve already? There may even be some retired ratings interested in this? If the batch 1 are patrolling home waters this would free up batch 2 and frigates for deployments abroad otherwise could they be used by police/coastguard? They are never going to fight in a war?

Andy G

They might fight with containerized weapons, probably sitting ducks though


Is this a wah or you mean like the current Royal Navy Reserve.


Can’t see any guns. What do they carry? Air rifles? What a wee navy the UK now has.


1 x 20mm cannon on the bow. On the headline picture the first line of the headline ends with “… vessels may“. Look just below the gap between “vessel” and “may” and you can see it mounted on a slightly raised platform in front of the bridge. It’s small but for the sort of policing of peace time U.K. waters that they would be doing I would think that is sufficient. I think they also have a couple of GPMG on board as well.


You don’t generally need a medium gun/missile armed frigate for measuring nets and checking logs. In the same way you don’t use a 20mm cannon armed fisheries protection vessel as a strategic deterrant. Lucky for us the RN has the right vessels for each job it needs to do.

Daniele Mandelli

Troll Alert again. Note the Inflammatory comment ” Wee Navy ” designed to rile.


Thanks Daniele. For some reason I didn’t read to the end of the post. Oh well, I’ll know better now since trying to post a helpful reply was a waste of a couple of minutes of my life.

Daniele Mandelli

That’s what I thought mate! That person whoever he or she is in the oft encountered camp of posting trolling nonsense making no real point other than to rile or wind up.

Mark him well. I have.


Encouraging news.. Totally agree with you Dadsarmy! I would of thought reserves could be used to crew some of these vessels. Just like the Army and RAF.. Reserves are becoming more important so why not consider crewing some of our smaller vessels entirely with reserves including the rotation of crews i would of thought it’s possible.


Recruitment remains a problem allegedly although the ‘made in the royal navy’ ads are the best I’ve ever seen. The RAF ads are excellent as well. Compare those to the army’s weak chinned effort where everyone stops for prayers five times a day! Come on! Retention is a problem; we must address that. Get them in. Keep them in! I like the idea of ex navy crewing the patrol boats, RNR or otherwise. We could end up having to defend our own fishing grounds. I kid you not. We have gone to war for less in the past. I am… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Bang on Bill.

Lee H

Morning This is all part of the rebalancing activity that will go on during the next 18 months as the U.K. has to start doing more things by herself. MDP can only be helped by that, funding from elsewhere which releases more money back into defence. MDP still needs two things: Removal of Successor from CDEL Increase in % of portion of GDP allocated to defence. Some commentators are asking for 3% which is too unrealistic but a gradual increase to 2.5% over the lifetime of a parliamentary session in line with inflation should be politically sellable. This rise however… Read more »


I saw this yesterday about the latest French OPV destined for the Caribbean:


We already have problem with illegal fishing just need to go on ship tracking apps to find were patrol boats are. Is happening in Scotland already.