Ukraine is to sign a memorandum with the UK to secure £1.25 billion in funding to build new military vessels for the Ukrainian Navy, the first two ships will be constructed in the UK and the remaining 6 vessels will be built in Ukraine.

The vessels will be of the Barzan class, a British-designed fast attack missile boat. The Barzan class were first ordered by the Qatari Navy in 1992. Vosper Thornycroft ( Babcock International) was chosen to build the 4 ships of the class.

Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001
Barzan class ships.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was reported by local media as saying that the memorandum would be signed his state visit to the UK this week.

“This is an important strategic document … we will sign this memorandum for the amount of 1.25 billion pounds,” Zelenskiy said.

It has also been reported that the funds would be in the form of a 10-year loan.

You can read more about this class of vessel at the link below.

Barzan (Vita) Class Fast Strike Craft

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I bet these vessels will be smaller but better armed than the River OPVs. Discuss…


River class are patrol ships for low threat environments, these will be designated missile ships for a higher threat environment.


2000 ton OPVs, they are frigate sized and pack the punch of an armed trawler. What happened to value for money?? Yes I get the fact they can stay at sea for long periods and that large armament isn’t needed for basically constabulary duties BUT if the balloon went up what use would these vessels be? None really, not even as a radar picket.


If the balloon went up it would be academic as our lovely island would be a glass car park…they are good enough for what we need of them


Probably the use would be for minesweepers and mine weeping control. I mean they are so few that its significance would be minimal.

Nick Bowman

I think they could be used as floating refueling platforms for Merlins patrolling the GIUK gap if the Russian sub threat intensified.

Andy P

Rob, what if the balloon doesn’t go up ??? I’m not sure when in the last 75 years or so we couldn’t find a use for an OPV. While we’re at it, its been a long time since the UK has had frigates weighing in at 2000 tons so that logic is pretty flawed. You may have noticed that all the ‘ship classifications’ have crept up weight wise, eg, we’re not calling the T45’s cruisers based on their weight. Its a facile argument.



‘What if the balloon doesn’t go up?’

Yeah but the RN is there precisely for the balloon going up (or deterring it going up) otherwise we could just let the Police do it.

Mark Latchford

Rob, you’ve answered your own question – the Rivers are for constabulary duties, and were therefore presumably much cheaper than these Ukrainian ships. Not everything has to be ready to fight World War 3.

Andy P

Couldn’t have put it better Mark. The RN isn’t just there to fight WW3, it performs a number of roles including anti drug/people smuggling and humanitarian/disaster relief. To name but a few, it also performs a few more discreet roles as well that don’t require loads of guns, missiles or torpedoes.


Except it seems they are not cheaper, but let’s wait to see the final price / build out before comparing.


Hi Steve, The River B2’s were expensive and this has been discussed loads on here already. As far as I can understand the extra cost probably had two drivers: Keep the yards open; Built to RN standards regarding accomodation, damage control and from a few articles I believe there are some extra capabilities that you don’t normally see on this class of vessel or listed in wikipedia, etc. Having said that I feel that the price paid was a little too generous and perhaps the RN could have had a little extra capability worked into the design from the get… Read more »


Yeah i know, but either way it was still over priced. We could have kept the yard open still and got a better ship out of the deal. A simple thing like expanding them further and adding a hanger, would have added a lot of flexibility.

The rivers really have no function, their policing role could easily be done by a coast guard cutter costing a fraction of the price, and they don’t have the weapons/defensive aids to take on any more risky task.

Matt C

No, we couldn’t. This has been discussed umpteen times in UK defence blogs and forums. Short answer:

1) The Rivers were the only ships that could be produced by the shipyard at the time at no ADDITIONAL cost. Redesigning anything would have incurred more costs.

2) The River contract was primarily to keep the shipyard alive. Nothing more and less. Had the boats not been built, the money would have had to be paid anyway.

These are the facts. Whining and whatifs doesn’t change them.


The River could easily and quickly be up gunned with:
Aesa Radar
Containerised Sky Sabre
Containerised UAV equipped with martlet and or stingray , BAE 40 mk 4
2 remote 30mm bushmaster also with Martlet side mounted.

I’m sure they could even fit some anti ship missiles on there if push came to shove.


Hi BB85,

Great article on Save the Royal Navy about up gunning the River B2’s here:


In theory yes, in practice who knows.

The only thing in that list that is currently tested is the Martlet on the gun and that has not been tested on the rivers. Could the other stuff be rushed on in the time of war/need, maybe, but maybe isn’t really what we want to rely on since unexpected issues could arrise or simply shortage of the weapons.

Nigel Collins

The French appear to be taking a different view to us.

09 OCTOBER 2020
France to arm future OPVs with RAPIDFire Naval CIWS

Casual Reader

They seem pretty functional to me. Excellent for constabulary work, as you have stated, comparatively cheap and effective for flying the flag.

There’s probably little room to upgrade them without major refit that may make compromise the ships (could make the vessels too heavy, power issues etc). The right ship for thr right job but definitely room and plenty of reason to expand the fleet of frigates etc.


These could be uparmed with 40mm guns and helicopter drones and a pair of 30mm each side. if the balloon went up they’d likely pick up duties done by frigates (e.g. Falklands) to allow those assets to be freed for the conflict.
They represent amazing value for money in terms of days on station per year, and provide presence which is important for defence diplomacy (to stop the balloon going up)


Rob, thats not to say I’m against a modest up arming of the B2s. In a war scenario every vessel should have some form of utility, but they will realistically only be used for peaceful operations and the money better spent on things like mk41 for the T45’s imo.


Value for money? A government joke. Apparently we ( that would be my and your taxes) are paying 1000 Deloitte consultants each £2000 a day to learn public health epidemiology skills aka set up a naff covid contact tracing system.
Regarding River 2 the RN showed impressive political adeptness in the T26 budget fiasco in getting a decent T31, retaining the batch 1s and speccing and deploy the batch 2s in such a way as to free up enough of our limited frigate fleet to deliver sovereign carrier strike. Kudos due there.


Few modern Frigates are in the 2,000t range, most are trending into 3-5kt.
If the balloon did go up though I suspect having lightly armed ships to work in low threat environments and free up combatants will be just as useful as ever.


How many weapons do you need to measure a fishing net or chase a smuggler


The Fisheries patrol is now being done by the River 1s. Lucky the MOD didn’t have time to flog them off BTW.


So where are there are the boats that are to be built in the UK most likely to be built, as the former Vosper yard has been closed and Babcock doesn’t own Appledore anymore.

Alan Mcshane

They are building a two ship hanger on the Forth ?

Simon m

Babcock options are Rosyth second bay in frigate factory?
or potentially Devonport if facilities there could be expanded there
They could do the design work & subcontract the work to Appledore I guess?


The article is wrong. BAE tookover the shipbuilding part of Vosper Thornycroft in 2009. The design would belong to BAE.


BAE has a potential partner with Cammell Lairds, Birkenhead.


BAE Systems design so unless they were planning to sub contract it out the only two yards they own with a panel line are Govan or Barrow. Ironically the Destroyer build facility at Portsmouth would be ideal for this kind of work but ever since they tore the panel line out it is a non-starter. I would lean towards Govan being used especially as it would satisfy the TOBA that BAE Systems has with UK Government, the main problem with that is Govan is rather busy with Type 26 at the moment. This is exactly the kind of vessel that… Read more »


If Biden wins Ukraine is in BIG trouble.


Not sure why, they didnt cave to Trumps demands they make up charges against Bidens son in return for not cancelling military aid.


Exactly, they will probably increase military aid dramatically and the Ukraine Gas company will mysteriously treble his sons wages.


Biden threatened to withhold 1.5bn in aid if they didn’t sack the special investigator looking at Burisma Holdings – the energy company Hunter Biden was on the board of despite having no experience in energy, speaking no Ukrainian and whose only skill seems to be in political access and link to China. The Ukraine sacked him.


Are you kidding? This is 180 degrees to wrong way round. It was Ukraine that pursued the US with evidence and no one would listen.


Let’s just hope that the Ukraine is in BIG trouble Dan. For the sake of everyone on the planet and the credibility of the USA!


What are you talking about Dan you are badly misinformed or just a Trump supporter ? lol

Mr Bell

These fast attack craft are precisely what we need to help patrol our EEZ post Brexit. 10 vessels for 1.25 billion on a 10 year loan. Ukraine is getting decent value for money there.
If the RN could tag on 5 or 6 of these vessels it would be good. Add Norwegian anti ship missile and either a rolling airframe missile launcher or a phalanx and then next time the pesky Russians need escorting through the channel send a squadron out to meet them.

Andy P

Mr Bell, who do you think we’ll be protecting our EEZ against ???? Those are going to be some badass Spanish fishermen or people smugglers if we’re needing Exocets…..


Actually European Fishermen can be quiet aggressive Spanish, French and indeed Icelandic trawlers attacked British trawlers and they attacked in packs.

Mr Bell

Potential fishing war that could result in armed conflict if an EU nation tries to defend their fishermen illegal fishing in UK waters.

Andy P

You can toss in any hypothetical scenario, if in the unlikely event things escalate to another cod war then short of this ‘armed conflict’ they’ll be fine at 2000 tons. Going with this ‘armed conflict’ (however unlikely) then well, we’d be at war wouldn’t we so be using air, surface and sub surface vessels like any other ‘armed conflict’.

Are you suggesting if we stuck a 76 mil and some Martlet on it then they’d be able to see off the Spanish Armada II ???? Aye, because the ‘Johnny Foreigner’ would be crapping themselves….

The Big Man

The last Cod war ended up with 55 ramming incidents and 22 Frigates damaged. The 4.5 inch guns and missile launchers do not appear to have been utilised. Perhaps the OPV’s that we have are just spot on.


They aren’t escorts, they are strike craft sortieing for a single mission and returning to port. They are the modern equivalent of motor torpedo boats.


What the hell do you expect the UK EEZ to be post Brexit? A potential Warzone?

Mr Bell

Potential fishing war. Yes


Nobody is going to end up shooting at each other in the Channel or the Irish Sea FFS.


Well UKEZ makes up a large part of the North Atlantic… You know…as in NATO


Go out into the North Atlantic in one of these… I’m sure the crew will love the experience.

Nigel Collins

Excellent news, with more to come I hope.

As for the batch ll rivers? Ships that can serve more than one purpose if we improve their armament.


(reposting here due to it being an answer lower down the thread) BAE Systems design so unless they were planning to sub contract it out the only two yards they own with a panel line are Govan or Barrow. Ironically the Destroyer build facility at Portsmouth would be ideal for this kind of work but ever since they tore the panel line out it is a non-starter. I would lean towards Govan being used especially as it would satisfy the TOBA that BAE Systems has with UK Government, the main problem with that is Govan is rather busy with Type… Read more »

The Snowman

Ideal opportunity to play Fantasy Fit Out 🙂 Using British components as much as possible.

  1. A position gun – Bofors 57mm
  2. X position CIWS – Bofors 40mm
  3. SSMs – Are our old Harpoons still serviceable? Or best to fit something else?
  4. SAMS – Hmm?
The Snowman

Camm/Seaceptor is too new to risk, in case the Russians capture one of these ships.

Meirion X

Would not the old Sea Wolf be useful instead? The RN must have at least a few hundred spare SW silos now in stock?


Probably time-expired, if any are left.

Andy P

There would need to be a supply/support network too, for what is ultimately a weapon that is being phased out. Back of a fag packet numbers here but I would guess it would be at least as expensive as using newer missiles. Not that they would be required on an OPV. One of the advantages of these vessels is their time ‘on station’ and relative cheapness to run. When you start putting more weapons on them they become more expensive to run and manpower intensive.

The Big Man

57mm gun needs through deck fitting and full gun crew below deck. This would require major redesign.

The Snowman

Thanks Big Man. That’s a shame, and a surprise, as I thought the OTO Melera 76mm originally fitted was deck penetrating(?), and therefore the 57mm would be similar. If that isn’t the case, what options are there that aren’t deck penetrating? The 40mm?


Yes the Oto 76mm fitted to the Barzan class already is deck penetrating meaning there should be no problem fitting the Bofors ’57Mk3 to the vessel and certainly wouldn’t require major redesign as alluded to above be The Big Man.


The Oto 76 already fitted to the Barzan class is also deck penetrating so it won’t require a major redesign to accommodate the Bofors ’57Mk3.


Good news. Just saying “national ship building” is meaningless and these kind of national backup is must. The missile crafts’ design must have been belonging to BAES (VT), it can be either built at BAES Clyde or out-sourced “elsewhere”. In the former case, I’m afraid it can be used to “save the day” to slip T26’s batch-2 order by ~1 year. If the cut is inevitable in this review, this is “a good approach” because MOD will not be forced to “pay” for the rise of T26 building cost due to delaying T26 build (engineers and labors are anyway there).… Read more »


Stupid of BAE to close Vospers of Portsmouth. They could have built the River2s.
Amazed the Government didn’t make them keep it open as a condition of the forced buy out.

Andy P

4thwatch, as I understand it, the Batch 2 Rivers were a bit of a ‘sandwich filler’ while waiting for the T26’s to start building. They are overpriced as part of the bigger picture to keep the manpower in the yard as big picture it would work out cheaper. All I can say is the MOD maybe learned lessons after the long gap between the V boats and starting the A boats.


Bet Putin is chuffed about this…

B.D. Shandor

All very interesting discussion re: constabulary v. WW 3 naval needs but keep in mind that in 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea and started the Russo-Ukrsine War all in violation of the Budapest Memorandum of 1995 (to which the UK is a party), Russia also seized every naval vessel, ship and tugboat in Ukraine’s navy. In other words, Ukraine has No navy. Therefore, every single vessel of any class, size or defensive or offensive capability helps.


I thought UK yards were uncompetitive, foreign yards are subsidised so UK could never win orders. And yet here we are with a foreign order. Yes the government are involve but that no different than in say France.

Russ Tidbury

Babcock International?
An ex VT design which I assume is now controlled by BAEs through the BVT merger?


I’m really pleased to see this news. A modest order but UK Plc is back in the business of building warships for export. ?


Ignoring the 6 OPV’s you’ve built for the Irish Navy?


What is that bizarre looking antenna for? If anyone knows.
also seeing as this design is what, 30+ years old will they be copying the design straight from the drawing board? can imagine even small redesigns will push the price of these up massively


This is alarming.Why would anyone suddenly order a billion pounds of(quarter of a century old design) warships from the worlds most expensive and least efficient warship building nation? This stinks.

The Snowman

Because they are being bullied by their big neighbour and want some friends?

Andy P

Assuming all you say is true, they’re maybe looking for other Western allies to engage with. Although they’ve maybe looked around and seen the other nations who have used UK designs or bought second hand (sorry, pre-used) warships.

I’m not being jingoistic but its possible we’re not that awful at building warships although obviously not the cheapest.


What are the odds of ever seeing the loan being repaid? What are the odds of massive corruption not being involved? Absolutely stinks, and you know it.

Andy P

Grubbie, “massive corruption” you say ??? Maybe worth having a rummage through BAE’s back catalogue in dealings with the Saudi’s amongst others. It seems pretty rife within the arms industry. Ukraine is a democracy at least, that’s not a bad start.


I was thinking more about uk corruption

Andy P

I’m sure the UK isn’t immune to it it but I’m not sure its endemic but if you think it “massive” then fair enough. I’m bowing out though.


You said it yourself! Saudi, BAE and how idiot Mark Thatcher got to be wealthy,etc,etc.

A. Smith

Most recently, Turkey have sold ships to Kuwait, the South Koreans to Colombia and the French to Argentina. Are the UK Government proactively selling the River Class and Type 31 designs to other countries? The Type 31 was chosen for it’s ‘exportable’ qualities. Why isn’t the UK actively selling it? The River Class should be marketed in corvette form as its a proven platform but again, I don’t hear about it being offered to other countries in the press, but I do with French vessels. What is going on? Also, why couldn’t the Type 45 design have taken part for… Read more »


Rivers have been sold to Bazil, Bahrein, Thailand & beefed up as a corvette to the Oman. The T26 have been sold to Austrailia & Canada so far with interest shown by others.

Paul T

I don’t think the Type 45 could be in any way,shape or form be considered for the FFG(X) Competition,it is a Destroyer after all,and the USN has plenty of those.

A. Smith

The Type 45 could have been offered as a design with a large quantity of Mk41 VLS cells, shortened mast for their AN/SPY-6 radar and a noise reduction package based on the Type 26. My point is that according to the press, BAE to do not appear to be proactively competing for ship contracts and companies from other countries are.

Paul T

The Warship Building Market is very competitive,the Type 45 did have some interest from Saudi Arabia but that didn’t result in any sales.With Canada and Australia choosing Type 26 based Designs that would be the best that BAE could hope for albeit they wont be Built in the UK.There is a slight glimmer of hope that a future Batch of the FFG(X) might go to another Bidder other than the Constellation Class FREMM based Frigate but that is purely speculative.


Actually I’m rather concerned about it all. A loan of 1.25 Bn GBP. To Ukraine! This likely to end up very badly. What’s to stop the loan disappearing into various pockets and Ukraine just defaulting on the lot! Unless there is some very good answers to very simple questions I hope HMG will not go anywhere near this deal.


Ukraine has a wealth of natural resources and a flourishing iron and steel industry – it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the loan was guaranteed with this in mind eg cheap steel imports for UKGOV infrastructure projects (HS2 etc)