Tag Archives: Batch 2 River-class

Patrol Vessel

The Royal Navy’s newest vessel HMS Tamar (P233) has raised the White Ensign from her deck for the first time and takes her place as a Fleet warship.

HMS Tamar (P233) raises her flag on her own river

Uniquely conducting the ceremony on her namesake, the River Tamar, the very distinctive Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), bears two rampant red lions either side of her superstructure, representing her close affiliations with both Devon and Cornwall.

Over the past few weeks the Ship has been operating around Plymouth Sound and the South West sea training areas, carrying out her acceptance trials and a series of firsts for the ship and her crew. These has included the first helicopter landing – a Wildcat from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, her first gunnery exercises, as well as boat drills and emergency exercises, that has put the crew through their paces.

HMS Tamar (P233) also has the distinction for being the ‘Greenest Ship in the Royal Navy’ – fitted with ‘catalytic converters’ which reduce nitrogen-based emissions from her engine exhausts by up to 95 per cent. She weighs in at 2,000 tonnes, has a 6,000 nautical mile/10,186 km range and a flight deck capable of carrying a Merlin helicopter. She also has accommodation for up to 50 Royal Marines Commandos and is considered by her crew as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Royal Navy vessels.

Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson, Commanding Officer of HMS Tamar (P233) said; «It’s an incredibly proud moment for the ship. We’ve generated really quickly, we’ve done all our training and now we are at the point where we can join the Fleet, and start to get ready for our first deployment later this year».

Affiliated to the Cornish City of Truro, Councillor Bert Biscoe the Mayor Truro has sent his best wishes to the Ship: «On behalf of the community of Truro, the elected members and establishment of Truro City Council, and all those for whom Truro is home and a workplace, may I convey the good wishes and congratulations to the Captain of HMS Tamar (P233) on the auspicious occasion of its commissioning into the Fleet. The River Tamar is the oldest cultural boundary in Europe, and it is fitting that the vessel carries the name of the River which bonds, as a son to his mother, the Duchy of Kernow to the Crown. Long may she patrol and protect us one and all – Tamar bys Vykken»!

Lady Brigitte Peach, the Lady Sponsor of HMS Tamar (P233) also sent a goodwill message on the raising the White Ensign for the first time: «Congratulations to you all on the outstanding achievement of your transition to a Warship proudly bearing the famous White Ensign. From the wonderful moment of her launch just over a year ago, I followed your excellent progress from build acceptance to a fighting platform. Of course, current circumstances have prevented me from being with you at sea and for the memorable moment of the raising of the White Ensign, but I am there with you in spirit and continue to follow your progress with interest. I look forward to joining you when and where circumstances permit, my best wishes for an exciting future. Fair winds and following seas to you all».

Debut at sea

The first of the Royal Navy’s (RN) next-generation patrol ships HMS Forth (P222) is at sea as she sailed down the Clyde for the first time on August 31.

The Forth is with us – Navy's new patrol ship makes her debut at sea (RN photo)
The Forth is with us – Navy’s new patrol ship makes her debut at sea (RN photo)

HMS Forth (P222) leads a class of five state-of-the-art warships which will act as the RN’s eyes and ears around the United Kingdom (UK), help to safeguard fishing stocks, reassure and protect Falkland Islanders and deploy to the Mediterranean and Caribbean if necessary.

Designed for a crew of just under 60 (but needing only 38 crew at any one time to go to sea), the ship departed Scotstoun – where she’s spent several months being fitted out – on August 30 afternoon with a maximum number of 110 souls aboard. Every bunk aboard is filled.

Contractors from builders BAE Systems, experts from the military’s support organisation Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the RN’s equipment trials specialists Maritime Capability Trials and Assessment (MCTA) and ship’s company will guide HMS Forth (P222) through her ‘contractor sea trials’ to see how she handles and how the equipment on board performs.

Although she’s classed as a Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), HMS Forth (P222) and her sisters – HMS Medway (P223), HMS Trent (P224), HMS Tamar and HMS Spey – are a big leap forward from HMS Tyne (P281), HMS Severn (P282), HMS Mersey (P283) and HMS Clyde (P257), which were designed and built 15 years ago.

They’re four knots/4.6 mph/7.4 km/h faster, carry a 30-mm, not 20-mm main gun, two Miniguns, four machine-guns, two Pacific 24 sea boats. Each ship is equipped with a flight deck (only HMS Clyde (P257) of the first-generation craft can host a helicopter) and there’s accommodation for up to 50 troops/Royal Marines to support operations ashore if needed.

Junior ratings share six-berth cabins – as on Type 45 destroyers; senior rates and officers will live in two-berth en suite cabins.

HMS Forth (P222), which is affiliated to the historic city of Stirling, also borrows many of the first batch’s features – which were revolutionary in RN ships at the time: fixed fire-fighting systems across much of the ship, a computer-controlled machinery monitoring system. The bridge is far more Type 45 (spacious, computerised with interchangeable displays, communications kit) than a rather cramped Type 23 frigate.

«Today marks a key moment in the generation of the ship and it is extremely exciting to be on board», said Commander Bob Laverty, Forth’s first Commanding Officer. «Forth boasts state-of-the-art equipment, and my Ship’s Company are looking forward to developing their knowledge of the systems on board with their industry counterparts».

The Batch 2s are from the same family as the Batch 1s «but are a completely new design», Lieutenant Tom Sleight, Forth’s Navigator, explained.

«The design provides a lot more operational flexibility with the large flight deck and space for the embarked force. These ships will be able to conduct all of the fishery protection and domestic security duties currently undertaken by the squadron but will now also provide far more capable platform for deploying overseas such as when HMS Mersey (P283) provided support to migrant operations in the Mediterranean or HMS Severn (P282) and HMS Mersey (P283) on Atlantic Patrol North. They are going to be extremely capable ships when compared with their predecessors».

Ship No.2, HMS Medway (P223), has taken Forth’s place at Scotstoun for fitting out having been floated down river from Govan in mid-August.

HMS Forth (P222), the first of the Royal Navy's second batch of Offshore Patrol Vessels, sails down the Clyde towards the open sea for the first time (RN photo)
HMS Forth (P222), the first of the Royal Navy’s second batch of Offshore Patrol Vessels, sails down the Clyde towards the open sea for the first time (RN photo)