Tag Archives: BAE Systems

ANZAC Class Ship

BAE Systems Australia has welcomed a third ANZAC class warship to its Henderson facility as part of the fleet upgrade to keep the ships in service until they are replaced by the Hunter class frigates.

An unusual view of two Australian ANZAC-class frigates at BAE’s dockyard in South Australia. The third frigate has arrived there to undergo the AMCAP upgrade, and all ten upgraded ships of this class will return to active service by 2023 (BAE photo)
An unusual view of two Australian ANZAC-class frigates at BAE’s dockyard in South Australia. The third frigate has arrived there to undergo the AMCAP upgrade, and all ten upgraded ships of this class will return to active service by 2023 (BAE photo)

The Mid Life Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade is being undertaken at Henderson by the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance.

HMAS Anzac’s docking marks a significant milestone for BAE Systems, where it joins sister ships HMAS Perth (FFH 157) and HMAS Arunta (FFH 151). This will be the first time that three warships have been on the hardstand at the Henderson facility.

HMAS Anzac (FFH 150) will be the second ship to receive the AMCAP upgrade which includes:

  • Upgraded ventilation systems;
  • New sewage systems;
  • Improvements to the diesel engines to improve power and efficiency;
  • Replacement of the air search radar capability with the Australian CEA L-Band radar; and
  • Replacement of the full communications suite on the ship.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Gabby Costigan, said: «The upgrade of the ANZAC fleet, through our role in the WAMA alliance, demonstrates the breadth and depth of work that BAE Systems Australia has done to date in the sustainment of the ANZAC class fleet over more than two decades. BAE Systems is an Australian industry leader in maritime sustainment. We are very proud of the skilled workforce capacity that we have grown to meet the technical challenges of maritime sustainment».

HMAS Arunta (FFH 151), the first of class AMCAP ship, most recently had her old mast removed to make way for the installation of a newly developed Air Search Radar System. The new mast is currently being manufactured by BAE Systems and scheduled to be installed at the end of October.

Australian company CEA Technologies is responsible for developing the new Air Search Radar System that complements the existing Anti-Ship Missile Defence system.

HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) will undock before the end of the year after having spent more than 12 months on the hard stand. She will then undertake sea trials ahead of a planned return to service in 2019.

The remaining seven ships will be back in service by 2023.

Tank upgrade

World-leading thermal imaging technology is being offered to the British Army as part of Team Challenger 2’s bid to upgrade the Army’s Main Battle Tank.

Team Challenger 2 offers world-leading, thermal imaging technology for Challenger 2 tank upgrade
Team Challenger 2 offers world-leading, thermal imaging technology for Challenger 2 tank upgrade

The technology, developed by Leonardo in the UK, forms part of the BAE Systems led bid to upgrade the tank and would for the first time bring independent night vision for both the gunner and the commander.

Also known as «electro-optic technology», the thermal imaging system will help British troops identify potential threats and move undetected in hostile situations, while also shaving valuable seconds off reaction times, which can make the difference between mission success and failure.

Instead of sensing light like a standard digital camera, Leonardo’s infrared camera senses heat emitted by all objects with temperatures greater than absolute zero (-273°C). The hundreds-of-thousands of individual pixels in the camera, each one-twelfth the thickness of a human hair, can detect temperature differences as small as one-fiftieth of a centigrade, allowing for extremely sharp images.

Simon Jackson, Campaign leader for Team Challenger 2 at BAE Systems said: «Leonardo’s sight brings to Team Challenger 2 the most capable night vision available. Combined with our engineering skills and knowledge of Challenger 2 – which we designed and built – we will work together to integrate Leonardo’s technology seamlessly into the tank, sharing data across crew stations and with battle management computers. Sighting is a vital element of a battle tank’s role and Leonardo’s sight will provide our troops with unparalleled 24-hour night-and-day visibility, giving them a long-range threat identification system that really makes the most of the tank’s firepower».

Mike Gilbert, SVP Optronics Systems UK at Leonardo, said: «Our thermal cameras – designed and built in the UK – can «see» in total darkness as far as the horizon, and the applications for this technology are endless – from helping improve our understanding of the natural world to improving the operational capabilities of the British Army’s Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. Our infra-red technology plays a crucial role in supporting British troops in the most challenging environments and we’re pleased to be working alongside BAE Systems to offer this technology for Challenger 2, helping extend its life to 2035 and beyond».

The technology is already proven on other military platforms – such as the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier and the Royal Air Force’s Chinook fleet – but has wider applications, including being used by leading broadcasters to capture some of the most difficult shots possible for television.

In David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II documentary, cameras equipped with Leonardo’s technology allowed the filmmakers to capture the most detailed film ever seen of a leopard’s nocturnal hunt, down to the movement of individual hairs on its body. While in the fast-paced world of sport, the Hot Spot system used in international cricket incorporates Leonardo’s thermal imaging technology, helping umpires see whether a ball has struck the batsman, pad or ball, by looking for a temperature change caused by the friction of impact.

From a military standpoint, the thermal imaging system was previously used in Afghanistan to allow Chinook Helicopters to fly undetected through mountain valleys, even in poor weather conditions. It also brought the ability to detect, recognise and identify coalition troops or vehicles at a safe standoff range prior to entry into drop or landing zones.

GPS Navigation

The U.S. Army has selected BAE Systems to provide touch screen Computer Display Units (CDU) as an upgrade to the company’s ASN-128 Doppler GPS Navigation System on Black Hawk helicopters. The self-contained, all-weather, day or night navigation system enables Black Hawk pilots to view real-time flight plan data.

U.S. Army Black Hawks to receive upgraded Doppler navigation systems
U.S. Army Black Hawks to receive upgraded Doppler navigation systems

This task order, which was awarded to BAE Systems under a current $226 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, will bring touch-screen navigation system control to UH-60A/L Black Hawks. The Army plans to use the ASN-128 systems through 2035, and the upgrades will support safer operation for pilots by minimizing heads-down tasks.

«We’ve been a supplier for the ASN-128 program since 1978», said Alan Dewar, director of Communications and Navigation Solutions at BAE Systems. «The full touch screen with moving map capability will improve safety for pilots, assisting our customer’s mission success».

The CDUs will be produced at BAE Systems’ facility in Wayne, New Jersey, with circuit card production in Austin, Texas. Additional CDU delivery orders may follow as part of the Army’s upgrade plan. The initial order of 250 CDUs will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.

BAE Systems’ AN/ASN-128 operates on more than 15,000 helicopters in 35 nations. The company’s Doppler Navigation Systems provide accurate, independent, jam-resistant navigation in friendly and hostile environments and in operational situations where interference with GPS is likely. The system automatically selects Doppler navigation in GPS-denied environments.

Hunter Class FFG

The Turnbull Government will deliver one of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates, create 4000 Australian jobs and secure a local naval shipbuilding industry for decades to come.

BAE Systems has been selected as the preferred tenderer with the Global Combat Ship – Australia for the Navy's future frigate capability
BAE Systems has been selected as the preferred tenderer with the Global Combat Ship – Australia for the Navy’s future frigate capability

The frigates, to be designed by BAE Systems and built by ASC Shipbuilding, are central to our plan to secure our nation, our naval shipbuilding sovereignty and create Australian jobs.

BAE System’s Global Combat Ship – Australia will provide our nation with one of the most advanced anti-submarine warships in the world – a maritime combat capability that will underpin our security for decades to come.

The Future Frigates, named the Hunter class, will be built in Australia, by Australians, using Australian steel.

This $35 billion program will create 4,000 Australian jobs right around the country and create unprecedented local and global opportunities for businesses large and small.

The Hunter class will begin entering service in the late 2020s replacing the eight Anzac Frigates, which have been in service since 1996.

The Turnbull Government is committed to giving our military the potent naval capability it needs.

 

Naval Shipbuilding Sovereignty

The Future Frigate program is one of Australia’s most significant investments in military capability.

It provides a unique opportunity to not just strengthen but guarantee Australia’s naval shipbuilding sovereignty.

The next generation of frigates will be built by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard. ASC Shipbuilding, currently wholly owned by the Commonwealth, will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems during the build. This ensures BAE Systems is fully responsible and accountable for the delivery of the frigates and ensures the work will be carried out by Australian workers and create Australian jobs.

The Commonwealth of Australia will retain a sovereign share in ASC Shipbuilding while BAE manages the program. At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.

By the conclusion of the frigate build, ASC Shipbuilding will be a strategic national asset capable of independently designing, developing and leading the construction of complex, large naval warships.

This does not affect the Offshore Patrol Vessels, Air Warfare Destroyers, or the sustainment of the Collins Class submarines and will not preclude ASC Group from pursuing future shipbuilding opportunities.

Hunter Class Infographic
Hunter Class Infographic

 

Capability – The Hunter class

Following a rigorous and comprehensive Competitive Evaluation Process, the Government has assessed BAE’s Global Combat Ship – Australia as the capability best suited for our nation.

The Hunter class will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of lethality and deterrence our major surface combatants need in periods of global uncertainty.

The Hunter class will have the capability to conduct a variety of missions independently, or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region.

The frigates will also have the flexibility to support non-warfare roles such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Incorporating the leading-edge Australian-developed CEA Phased-Array Radar and the US Navy’s Aegis combat management system, with an Australian interface developed by Saab Australia, the Hunter class will be one of the most capable warships in the world.

 

Australian Industry Content

The Turnbull Government’s commitment to maximise Australian Industry Content in our military capability is delivering for Australian workers and Australian businesses.

BAE expects the Australian Industry Content for the Hunter class build will be 65-70 per cent which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades.

BAE has prequalified over 500 Australian businesses from every state and territory to be in the Hunter class supply chain.

The Turnbull Government would like to thank BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia for their participation in the extensive and thorough process of selecting Australia’s new Hunter class.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Type Frigate, Guided Missile (FFG)
Roles Anti-submarine Warfare

Air Defence

Surface Warfare

Surveillance & Intelligence

Interdiction

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Builder BAE Systems/ASC Shipbuilding
Displacement 8,800 tonnes (full load)
Length 149.9 metres/491.8 feet
Beam 20.8 metres/68.2 feet
Propulsion Combined Diesel Electric or Gas (CODLOG)
Speed 27+ knots/31 mph/50 km/h (top speed)
Range 7,000 NM/8,055.5 miles/12,964 km (electric motor drive)
Weapons MU90 torpedos

Mk45 Mod 4 5″/127-mm gun

SM2 & ESSM missiles

Advanced anti-ship missiles

Mk41 Vertical Launch System

Nulka Decoy System

Aircraft 1 × MH-60R helicopter
Crew 180 crew including embarked flight. Accommodation for up to 208

 

Amphibious Combat

The U.S. Marine Corps has awarded BAE Systems a $198 million contract to deliver an initial 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV), with options for a total of 204 vehicles which could be worth up to $1.2 billion.

BAE Systems team wins U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle competition
BAE Systems team wins U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle competition

BAE Systems, along with teammate Iveco Defence Vehicles, prevailed in the Marine Corps’ robust competition for the next generation of vehicles to get the Marines from ship to shore to engage in land combat operations.

«We are well positioned and ready to build the future of amphibious fighting vehicles for the Marine Corps, having already produced 16 prototypes», said Dean Medland, vice president and general manager of Combat Vehicles Amphibious and International at BAE Systems. «Through this award, we are proud to continue our partnership with the Marine Corps by providing a best-in-class vehicle to support its mission through mobility, survivability and lethality».

The ACV provides exceptional mobility in all terrains, and blast mitigation protection for all three crew and 13 embarked Marines, along with other improvements over currently fielded systems. The new vehicle is an advanced 8×8 open ocean-capable vehicle that is equipped with a new 6-cylinder, 700HP engine, which provides a significant power increase over the Assault Amphibious Vehicle, which is currently in service and has been in operation for decades. The ACV is also adaptable to accommodate growth for future technologies or requirements.

The BAE Systems team conducted its own extensive risk mitigation testing and evaluation for land mobility, survivability, and swim capabilities that proved its vehicle’s performance prior to delivering the first 16 prototypes to the Marine Corps in 2017.

Over the past 15 months, the company supported the Marine Corps’ rigorous Developmental Testing and Operational Assessment of the vehicles, which performed superbly in water and land operations, payload, and survivability.

Work on the program will be performed at the company’s facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; Sterling Heights, Michigan; Minneapolis; Stafford; San Jose, California; and York, Pennsylvania.

The Marine Corps’ selection of BAE Systems for the ACV 1.1 program further solidifies the company’s 70-year legacy of providing superior amphibious vehicle capabilities to meet ship-to-objective and combat tactical lift objectives. As a leading provider of combat vehicles, the company has produced more than 100,000 systems for customers worldwide. Iveco is also a proven manufacturer of combat vehicles, having designed and built more than 30,000 multi-purpose, protected, and armored military vehicles in service today.

 

Specifications

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) 67,500 lbs./30,617 kg
Payload up to 7,280 lbs./3,302 kg
Personnel capacity 13 + 3 crew
Speed
Paved road >65 mph/105 km/h
Open ocean 6 knots/6.9 mph/11.1 km/h
Range on road at 55 mph/89 km/h up to 325 miles/523 km
Range at sea followed by land up to 12 NM/13.8 miles/22.2 km followed by 250+ miles/402+ km on land
Turning radius 36-foot/11-meter curb to curb turning radius
Side slope >30%
Gradient >60%
Overall length 350 inches/8.9 m
Width 124 inches/3.1 m
Height (hull) 113 inches/2.8 m
Capable of operating in conditions up to Sea State 3 and through a nine-foot plunging surf

 

Payload Module

BAE Systems has received a contract to produce payload tubes for two of the U.S. Navy’s new Virginia-class (SSN-774) submarines to support increased firepower on the Block V version of the attack subs.

BAE Systems to provide additional payload tubes for new Virginia-class subs
BAE Systems to provide additional payload tubes for new Virginia-class subs

Under the contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat, a builder of the Virginia class, BAE Systems will deliver two sets, each consisting of four tubes, for the Virginia Payload Modules on the SSN-804 and SSN-805.

The Virginia Payload Module (VPM) extends the length of the Block V submarines over previous versions of the Virginia-class by adding an additional mid-body section to create more payload space for greater firepower. Each large-diameter payload tube can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPM offers exceptional flexibility as well for the integration of future payload types, such as unmanned systems or next-generation weapons.

«The Virginia Payload Module is critical to the Navy’s undersea presence», said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. «With the VPM, the Navy is adding significant capability to the Virginia-class by increasing the firepower of these subs and tripling their payload capacity».

BAE Systems, which is also providing payload tubes for the SSN-803 under a previously awarded VPM contract, has a long history of supporting the Navy’s submarine fleet as the leading provider of propulsors and other submarine systems. The company was selected to provide propulsors, spare hardware, and tailcones for Block IV Virginia-class vessels and stands ready to provide the same support for the Block V subs.

Under this most recent contract, BAE Systems will also develop the processes and tooling necessary for the Block V payload tube production. Work will be performed at the company’s facility in Louisville, Kentucky, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2020.

7th Astute submarine

On May 14, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the Ministry of Defence is investing a massive £2.5 billion in boosting Britain’s submarine building projects.

HMS Agincourt (S125) officially named
HMS Agincourt (S125) officially named

Speaking at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria, the home of British submarine construction, he announced £960 million worth of contracts have been signed to ramp up the next phase of construction for the UK’s four nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines.

He also announced that the Ministry of Defence has signed a £1.5 billion contract to build a seventh Astute hunter-killer submarine for the Royal Navy, before revealing that the attack boat will be called HMS Agincourt (S125). It will be the sixth vessel in the Royal Navy to be named after the Battle of Agincourt of 1415.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: «This multi-billion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats. Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defence against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face. Not only is this a massive boost for our armed forces, but it’s huge for Barrow, the heart of sub-building in this country. Today’s news supports 8,000 BAE Systems’ submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain, protecting prosperity and providing opportunity right across the country».

The multi-billion-pound announcements will help sustain around 8,000 jobs in BAE Systems’ submarine business, as well as thousands more across the UK submarine supply chain.

The Defence Secretary made the announcements during a ceremony, in which also opened a new £100 million submarine construction building in the Cumbria factory.

In front of a gathered workforce of employees and apprentices, he unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the state-of-the-art Central Yard Facility building which, at 26,700 metres squared, is equivalent in size to 21 Olympic-sized swimming pools and, at 45 metres high, is as tall as ten double-decker buses.

It will be used to outfit and test each section of the new Dreadnought submarines. The Dreadnought Submarine Programme will now move into its second phase. This will continue the design and build of the first Dreadnought submarine and commence the build of the second, including furthering the design and manufacture of the nuclear propulsion power plant.

This phase has commenced with contracts signed for £900 million and £60 million with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce respectively.

Elsewhere, Defence Minister Guto Bebb will be in Derby today – with the Rolls-Royce contract seeing over 700 jobs sustained at their factory in the city.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: «The Dreadnought Programme is a true national endeavour, furthering our world-class nuclear capability. Today’s announcement includes a £60m contract for Rolls-Royce, supporting over 700 jobs here in Derby as the factory continues to make the reactors that will power our state-of-the-art Dreadnought subs into the 2060s. I’d like to thank everyone at Rolls-Royce in Derby for their contribution to maintaining our Continuous at Sea Deterrent, protecting us against the most serious threats to our way of life, every hour of every day».

The Submarine Delivery Agency, which was established last month, will project manage the construction of future Royal Navy submarines, and support those in-service, working with Navy Command and the newly established Defence Nuclear Organisation.

Chief Executive Officer of the Submarine Delivery Agency, Ian Booth said: «The incredibly complex Astute and Dreadnought programmes maximise the tremendously skilled and experienced workforce we have across the UK submarine business. Both programmes require commitment and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain and in the newly formed Dreadnought Alliance, which will deliver a step change in how we will work together to efficiently and effectively deliver nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy».

Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said: «Securing this latest funding for our submarines programmes is excellent news for BAE Systems and the 8,700 employees in our Submarines business, as well as our local community in Barrow and the thousands of people across our UK supply chain who help deliver these nationally important programmes for the Royal Navy. We continue to make progress on these highly complex and technical programmes and today’s announcements will allow us to move forward with greater certainty and stability».

Steve Dearden, President-Submarines for Rolls-Royce said: «The Dreadnought class programme is a vital, national endeavour and we are immensely proud of the role that we play as custodian of the naval nuclear propulsion capability in the UK. Dreadnought will be powered by the next generation Naval Pressurised Water Reactor technology, which will be simpler, require 30% less maintenance and have reduced in-service costs. Today’s delivery phase II announcement allows us to move from design through to manufacture and the delivery of major components that are essential for the submarine build timeline».

Solar UAV

A new solar electric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which has the potential to fly for up to a year before needing maintenance, has become a step closer to reality following a new agreement between two cutting-edge British companies, BAE Systems and Prismatic.

Solar UAV to be developed with the potential to stay airborne for a year
Solar UAV to be developed with the potential to stay airborne for a year

Engineers from Prismatic and BAE Systems will collaborate on the development of the new solar powered High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV known as PHASA-35, with work already underway to prepare the first aircraft to be ready for flight tests in 2019.

The technology would offer a year-round, low cost persistent service for a wide range of needs including surveillance and vital communications to remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight operation.

Solar HALE vehicles offer a significantly cheaper alternative to conventional satellite technology, with PHASA-35 (standing for Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft), being a concept solar electric UAV that uses proven, long life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.

The PHASA-35 concept has a 35-metre/115-foot wingspan and weighs just 150 kg/331 lbs. – its lightweight, efficient build allows it to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time.

A quarter scale model (named PHASE-8) completed a successful maiden flight in 2017, with Prismatic Ltd and BAE Systems now looking to take the technology a step further.

BAE Systems will invest in the development and flight testing of the PHASA-35 system as part of its drive to continually develop new technologies to support aircraft of the future, working collaboratively with SMEs and academia.

BAE Systems has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally, and under the agreement with Prismatic, it will provide expertise in aerospace technology and project management to progress the PHASA-35 programme through to a marketable offering.

Operational flights

The Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet squadrons recently flew with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a highly accurate 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket that provides air-to-ground weapon support.

The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is loaded onto an F/A-18 to prepare for the weapon's initial deployment with the aircraft in March 2018 (U.S. Navy photo)
The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is loaded onto an F/A-18 to prepare for the weapon’s initial deployment with the aircraft in March 2018 (U.S. Navy photo)

APKWS allows the F/A-18A-D Hornet to maintain a forward-firing, moving-target capability while increasing available ordnance per aircraft and provides a more efficient weapons match versus target sets currently seen in theater.

«This is an incredible weapons system that our most experienced pilots down to the newest pilots can effectively employ», said Lieutenant Colonel Jon «TAG» Curtis, commanding officer of one of the F/A-18 Hornet squadrons.

The low-cost 2.75-inch/70-mm rocket has a laser guidance kit that gives it precision-kill capability. It has ability to destroy targets while limiting collateral damage in close combat.

Curtis’ squadron received the new weapon system in February and completed ground training and in-flight training to ensure the weapon worked effectively. All of the weapons fired during training directly impacted the final aim point.

«The PMA-242 APKWS and PMA-265 F/A-18 Hornet joint Integrated Product Team (IPT), with key stakeholders (Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft and Weapons Divisions, VX-31/VX-9, Marine Corps headquarters and BAE Systems), rapidly developed and executed an integration plan, cutting normal integration time by nine months and saving $4.9 million of allocated funds», said Lieutenant Commander Daniel Ropp, APKWS deputy program manager

The team established a land-based integration program to expedite fielding with a limited employment envelope using a tailored approach in engineering, logistics, and contracting to deliver units to theater as quickly as possible. This effort supported on time training and operational employment of APKWS for the deploying squadron in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), exemplifying «Speed to the Fleet», he said.

The F/A-18 Hornet is the second U.S. Navy fixed-wing platform to carry APKWS. It is also employed from the AV-8B Harrier II as well as rotary-wing platforms including the UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper and MH-60S/R Seahawk. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have fired thousands of combined fixed- and rotary-wing shots and hundreds in combat scenarios.

Officially commissioned

HMS Forth (P222), the first of the Royal Navy’s next-generation of Offshore Patrol ships has been formally commissioned into the Fleet.

HMS Forth (P222) is officially commissioned into the Royal Navy
HMS Forth (P222) is officially commissioned into the Royal Navy

Held at her home base of Portsmouth, the commissioning ceremony for HMS Forth (P222) represents the second ship to join the Royal Navy in less than six months.

After the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) in December, HMS Forth (P222) is the next generation of warships to arrive as part of the government’s £178bn plan to give the Armed Forces the equipment it needs over the next decade.

She is the first of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) designed for counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defence duties.

Commanding Officer, Commander Bob Laverty, said: «It’s a privilege to be the Commanding Officer of HMS Forth, the first in class of the new Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels. The body of work being put in by my ship’s company will be reflected in not just one, but all five brand new platforms being delivered to the RN and these fantastic ships will be a fine addition to the fleet. They are a highly capable and versatile warship and I am immensely proud of the effort and sacrifices all have made that have allowed us to be here today».

The commissioning ceremony lasted for just over an hour and guests included the Lady Sponsor Rachel Johnstone-Burt, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Ben Key and Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff Ships Rear Admiral Chris Gardner.

Classified as Batch 2 River-class OPVs HMS Forth (P222) and her sisters – HMS Trent (P224), Medway (P223), Tamar and Spey – are a significant upgrade on HMS Tyne (P281), HMS Severn (P282), HMS Mersey (P283) and HMS Clyde (P257), which were designed and built 15 years ago. With HMS Forth (P222) entering service this year the remaining four ships are all expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020.

They will become the Royal Navy’s eyes and ears around the UK, helping to safeguard fishing stocks, reassure and protect the Falkland Islands and are capable of deploying to the Mediterranean and Caribbean to safeguard the UK’s interests around the world.

Paddy Clayton, deputy head of the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) OPV Project Team, said: «The team at DE&S is extremely proud to see HMS Forth’s commissioning. We will continue to work closely with our delivery partners throughout UK industry and our customer as the remaining four ships in the new fleet are delivered into Royal Navy service».

Designed for a total crew of around 58, but requiring only 34 to go to sea, she can spend up to 320 days a year on operations. The larger crew allows a rotation of personnel to ensure they get to spend time at home or on training.

Built by BAE Systems at their base on the Clyde, the new OPVs are four knots faster than their predecessors at 24 knots/26.6 mph/44.4 km/h, have an increased range of 5,500 NM/6,329 miles/10,186 km, have a 30-mm automatic cannon as their main armament instead of a 20-mm gun, two Miniguns, four machine-guns and are equipped with two Pacific 24 sea boats.

Each ship has an extended flight deck to operate up to Merlin size helicopters and accommodation for up to 50 embarked Royal Marines for boarding and supporting operations ashore if required.

The new OPVs will be supported at Portsmouth Naval Base by BAE Systems, initially under the terms of the manufacturing contract.