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.”


  1. 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??

    • 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

      • Afternoon
        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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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 excuse to make the smart move.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 but after that they are toast again unless either there is another year of Brexit preparedness funding allocated, the defence budget is increased so that it can then cover the incremental cost of retaining the B1s, or savings are found elsewhere in the defence budget if they want to carry on running the B1s after the Brexit preparedness funding is exhausted.

    I suppose the other possibility is that it has been determined that one year will be enough time for the three R1s to sink the entire EU fishing fleet after which time they will no longer be needed. (Yes, that last bit was supposed to be a joke!)

  10. 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 of the UK maritime EEZ that rarely see offshore patrol vessels- also would like to see these vessels and the batch 2 operating armed UAV’s- they have space and plenty of size to do so as well as an update weapons fit- 57mm gun and SeaRam or CIWS would be a good idea for policing duties with a bit more teeth.
    I would not like to see the River B1’s retained at the expense of a type 23 frigate- they are not comparable a type 23 is a decent warship albeit elderly and the full ASW version with towed array sonar is probably the best ASW frigate in NATO- especially when carrying a merlin.
    the era of retaining or bringing into service vessels at the expense of current capacity has to end- we need renewed increased capacity and more personnel- RN needs an uplift of manpower by 4000-5000- which is achievable and citizens will flock to the RN if the message gets out- pay and conditions of service will be rapidly improved, armed forces accommodation will become world class and fit for purpose not shabby and sub standard and that time on deployment will reduce from current very high levels (due to low numbers of existing personnel, cross decking personnel between ships and reduced hull and submarine numbers)
    Size and numbers are a renewed capacity in their own rights and we need to applaud any effort to increase the RN size and numbers- just not at the expense of any current warships.- those days are over- we have the Russian Bear knocking and growling at our door.

  11. 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…

  12. 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 usd for the Atlantic deployments it will really ease the ability to keep the 23s and 45s on the important or high profile deployments.

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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 can carry out EEZ patrols and it would be real benefit to Recruitment To have an actual sea going role. For the money a year, it’s well worth it.

  15. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  16. 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 heartily sick and tired of Spanish trawlers plundering our waters and a so called NATO partner threatening our territory whilst maintaining their own enclaves in North Africa. Their brazen chutzpah is never challenged nor their hypocrisy. No more. QE visited Gib recently. No spanish incursions during that stay. Funny that! Weakness is always exploited. A show of strength is usually all it takes but the political will must be there. A very tough three years ahead. We have to walk the walk!

  17. 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 will only start to fix the current shortfall in manpower, weapon stocks and maintenance before any new equipment should be purchased.

  18. 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.


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