Tag Archives: HMS FORTH (P222)

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)

The first of the OPV

HMS FORTH (P222), the first of the five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), was officially named on March 9, 2017, during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site at Scotstoun in Glasgow in this important year for the Royal Navy.

First River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel named in Glasgow
First River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel named in Glasgow

Guests watched as Mrs. Johnstone-Burt, HMS FORTH’s sponsor and wife of Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, the Master of the Household to the Sovereign and former Chief of Staff to NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Transformation, named the 1,800 tonne, 295-foot/90-metre-long vessel. In keeping with tradition, Mrs. Johnstone-Burt smashed a bottle of locally-distilled whisky from the Deanston Distillery near Stirling, the city affiliated with HMS FORTH (P222), against the ship’s hull.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, said: «As part of a sustained programme delivering world-class ships and submarines, HMS Forth’s naming is a vitally important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need. From counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, to securing the UK’s borders on patrols closer to home, the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels will help protect our interests around the world».

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, added: «Today’s naming ceremony is an immensely proud occasion for each and every person involved in the design and manufacture of HMS FORTH (P222) for the Royal Navy. It’s easy to forget that the she started life as a flat plate of steel in the winter of 2014, yet just over two years later she is afloat at Scotstoun, with the latest technologies and combat management systems, ready to depart for sea trials later this year».

HMS FORTH (P222) will embark shortly for sea trials where she will be put through her paces in the open waters off the coasts of Scotland. With a crew of 58 HMS FORTH (P222) is expected to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2018.

The bottle of whisky was provided by Deanston Distillery near Doune, selected due to its close proximity to Stirling – the city that HMS FORTH (P222) is affiliated with. A bottle of its award-winning 12-Year-Old fine single was smashed off the ship’s hull by HMS FORTH’s Lady Sponsor, Mrs. Rachel Johnstone-Burt.

The 90 meter OPV is based on a proven BAE Systems design, which is already in service with the Brazilian Navy and Royal Thai Navy. 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 of in excess of 5,000 nautical miles/5,754 miles/9,260 km and a maximum speed of 24 knots/27.6 mph/44.4 km/h. The vessels will include a modified flight deck capable of operating the latest Merlin helicopters, larger stores and more accommodation for embarked troops. They will also be the first ships to be built with a BAE Systems’ designed operating system called ‘Shared Infrastructure’. The Shared Infrastructure hardware solution provides a smart, easily-updatable warship operating system loaded onto a single console.

The production timescales for the OPVs are as follows:

  • August 2014 – manufacturing contract for the first three ships announced
  • October 2014 – construction commenced on the first of class, HMS FORTH (P222)
  • June 2015 – construction commenced on the second of class, HMS MEDWAY (P223)
  • October 2015 – construction commenced on the third of class, HMS TRENT (P224)
  • November 2015 – UK Government announced its intention to buy a further two OPVs to be built in Glasgow
  • December 2016 – construction commenced on the fourth of class, HMS TAMAR (P225)
  • HMS FORTH (P222) scheduled to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2018