The first complex warship to be built at Glasgow since the last Type 45, HMS Duncan (D37), has successfully completed its journey from BAE Systems shipyard at Govan on the Clyde and is now safely docked at the company’s Scotstoun facility where she will complete final systems installation and testing.
HMS Forth, the first of the new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), entered the water for the first time on Saturday 13 August and her arrival at Scotstoun is the latest step in a modernised approach to shipbuilding at Glasgow that uses the latest technologies and processes. The first plate of steel for Forth was delivered to Glasgow in October 2014 and progressed down the production line soon after, with the ship structurally complete just 18 months later.
Vice Admiral Simon Lister, Chief of Materiel (Fleet) for the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: «The cutting-edge technology of the Royal Navy’s versatile new Offshore Patrol Vessels will enable these warships to carry out a wide range of tasks, from disaster relief missions to maritime security, all the while protecting the UK’s interests at home and around the globe. Supported by a rising Defence budget, the rollout of HMS Forth reflects the success of the OPV programme, safeguarding the vital capability and skills that will be used in the delivery of the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Frigates».
Iain Stevenson, Managing Director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «For Forth to enter the water less than two years after construction started is hugely significant and sets the tone for the future of modern warship building. She is the first complex warship to benefit from the new technologies and methods that we are introducing to further bolster our ability to be the best supplier to the Royal Navy. Forth has already benefitted from a safer and more efficient build process that enabled much of the work to take place under cover, and as a result she leaves our Govan facility at a much higher rate of completion. We’re building on the proud heritage of British shipbuilding here in Glasgow and looking to the future. Not only does this mean we are creating valuable additions to the Royal Navy’s fleet but we are ensuring that shipbuilding skills and expertise are maintained and developed in the UK».
The new process to transfer HMS Forth across the Clyde began with a single remote control and 160 wheels driving the 1600 tonne Forth from inside the ship build hall at Govan to the dock side at a careful half a mile per hour. HMS Forth, with a weight comparable to 120 London buses, then made a short journey towards the waiting barge before setting sail for Scotstoun via the King George V dock. She is now safely at Scotstoun with the installation of the complex combat systems already underway, prior to handover to the Royal Navy in the first half of 2017.
This design of the offshore patrol vessel builds on the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships and variants of this design are already in service in Brazil and Thailand. Engineers at BAE Systems have modified the design to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy in support of UK interests both at home and abroad.
The OPVs will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol with a range in excess of 5,000 nautical miles/5,754 miles/9,260 km, equivalent to a journey from Portsmouth to Rio de Janeiro, and a maximum speed of 24 knots/27.6 mph/44.5 km/h.
The manufacturing contract for the first three ships was announced in August 2014 and in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review the UK Government announced its intention to buy a further two offshore patrol vessels to be built in Glasgow. Construction of first of class, HMS Forth, began in October 2014, second of class, HMS Medway, began in June 2015 while HMS Trent began in October 2015. HMS Forth (length – 90.5 m, width – 13 m) is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017.