Tag Archives: HMS Tamar (P233)

Ready for duties

Britain’s newest warship is ready for front-line duties – just five months after the first sailors stepped aboard HMS Tamar (P233).

Navy’s newest ship ready for action in record time

In what is thought to be the fastest generation of a warship in peacetime, the Portsmouth-based ship has gone from incomplete lifeless hulk at the beginning of 2020 into a vessel ready to deploy around the globe by August.

Bringing HMS Tamar (P233) to life has been made all the more challenging by the pandemic – and the fact that most of the 61 crew are new to River class ships. Most have come from frigates and destroyers, even carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

The ship has spent 13 of the 17 weeks since she sailed from Govan at the end of March – with the yard going into lockdown as the ship headed down the Clyde – at sea.

At 60 one of the oldest sailors still at sea, and also one of the few Falklands veterans still serving, Warrant Officer 1st Class Trevor Ross witnessed the decommissioning of the previous Tamar – the base in Hong Kong which closed in 1997 when the territory was returned to China.

«We have lived in a ‘Tamar bubble’ throughout the pandemic. Eighteen-hour days, it’s been hard work and very tiring, but the spirit is really, really good, one of the best ships I’ve been on for morale», said the ship’s deputy head of marine engineering, who joined the Royal Navy in 1977. He is more than twice the average age of the ship’s company – far more sailors are in their 20s, like Able Seaman Mollie Sunshine Stokes, who joined HMS Tamar (P233) from Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

«We’re like a massive family on board Tamar – because everyone has been in the same situation with getting the ship ready and lockdown, it’s been easier to get through the past few months. There’s always someone around to pick you back up», said the 22-year-old seaman specialist from Exeter. «We have a really good work ethic – we smashed FOST out of the park».

She’s referring to Fleet Operational Sea Training, the last act of turning Tamar into an active warship, staged off the west coast of Scotland – fire/flood/navigational training and manoeuvres in the confined waters of numerous lochs – before switching to the South Coast for specific military training, such as gunnery, practising offensive tactics with her sister HMS Trent (P234) against destroyer HMS Defender (D36), and working with the Royal Marines of 47 Commando, who were impressed with HMS Tamar (P233) and her facilities.

The ship has a dedicated mess for more than 50 troops/marines/additional personnel – ideal for the wide range of maritime security roles that Tamar is designed to undertake.

The extra mess also makes the ship useful for evacuation operations, while the 16-tonne crane and space for up to five shipping container will be vital in disaster relief operations, both of which were tested by the FOST assessors.

The class is at the vanguard of the RN’s Forward Presence programme, stationing ships around the globe in regions key to UK interests/security as well as in home waters.

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».

Tamar is launched

The second of the Navy’s next-generation patrol ships makes her debut at sea next month – as the fourth ship entered the water for the first time.

HMS Tamar (P233) is launched as HMS Medway (P223) gears up for maiden voyage
HMS Tamar (P233) is launched as HMS Medway (P223) gears up for maiden voyage

HMS Tamar (P233) became the latest second-generation River-class ship to be officially launched, lowered into the water at BAE System’s Govan yard, then towed three kilometres downstream to the firm’s Scotstoun facility, where fitting out takes place.

There she joins Ship No.3 in the class, HMS Trent (P224), and No.2, HMS Medway (P223), which are both being fitted out.

Medway is days away from completion. She is due to head down Glasgow’s great artery for her maiden voyage in November.

A mixed Royal Navy-civilian crew will put the 2,000-tonne vessel through her paces off the west coast of Scotland after months of training and preparation.

As well as getting used to a new ship fitted with new equipment, the crew – who are split between Portsmouth (warfare/logistics) and the Clyde (weapons/marine engineers) – have been breathing life into the Medway name, visiting the Scottish Legion in Glasgow and the city’s RNR unit Dalriada, and trying their hand at curling and clay pigeon shooting.

The Borough of Medway will be the ship’s affiliate throughout her lifespan and sailors are due to attend a council meeting early in 2019 when the Freedom of the Borough will be bestowed on the vessel.

Despite not being at sea yet – or having raised the White Ensign – the traditions of the Service remain vitally important to Medway’s ethos, from toasting the birth of Prince Louis to recognising stalwarts of the ship’s company, such as communications expert Leading Engineering Technician Paul Guy.

He’s clocked up 25 years of unblemished service in the Royal Navy – a milestone recognised with a bar to his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

It was presented not only by his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Hugh Harris but also by comedian and Phoenix Nights’ Ted Robbins – aka Peter Kay’s arch rival Den Perry.

«It was fantastic to be presented with this award in recognition of 25 years in the Navy», said Paul. «To have it handed to me by Den Perry however was something else as I am a huge fan of his and he made this really special».

If the sea trials run as planned, HMS Medway (P223) should move to Portsmouth early in the new year.

«We on HMS Medway (P223) are extremely excited for the challenges ahead and the imminent sea trials – and subsequent first entry into Portsmouth», said Lieutenant Commander Harris. «My ship’s company continue to work hard to meet every future milestone and ultimately fulfil all the responsibilities required of her as she comes into service next year».

By then, HMS Forth (P222) – the lead ship in the second generation of River-class vessels – should be back at sea.

Problems with her have kept HMS Forth (P222) in Portsmouth throughout the summer of 2018, but following rectifications by BAE, her crew are expected to move back on board in November with trials resuming in the second half of January.

The final ship in the class, HMS Spey (P226), is due for launch. All five vessels will perform a mixture of fishery protection work and general maritime security duties in home waters – with the ability, like their first batch of Rivers, to conduct overseas patrol missions as well.