Tag Archives: Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)

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.

Christening of Trent

HMS Trent (P224), the third of five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), was officially named on March 13, 2018 during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site at Govan, Glasgow, as final preparations were made before she enters the water for the first time in the coming days.

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

To mark the occasion, employees and guests watched as Mrs. Pamela Potts, Trent’s sponsor and wife of Vice Admiral Duncan Potts, named the vessel which will aid in a range of operations including counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling to secure the UK’s borders.

Mrs. Potts released a bottle of gin from the Nelson’s Gin Distillery & Gin School in Stafford against the ship’s hull to officially name the vessel.

 

Landmark moment

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «This is another landmark moment for the River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel programme and an important day that honours the traditions of the Royal Navy. Today is made even more special as we are able to see the full scale of Trent as she prepares to enter the water for the very first time in the next few days. This is yet another reminder of the importance of what we do».

Defence Minister Guto Bebb MP said: «As the third of five Offshore Patrol Vessels being built in Scotland, HMS Trent (P224) will soon be part of a fleet of highly capable ships. These new vessels will keep the UK safe by conducting counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and other vital maritime operations. UK Defence has invested in an unprecedented ship-building production line in Glasgow and the city’s shipyards with their 1,700 highly skilled engineers and technicians are benefiting from full order books for the next two decades».

After the Naming Ceremony HMS Trent (P224) will be loaded onto an awaiting barge which will then lower her into the water before her outfitting and systems installation. HMS Trent (P224) is expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy in the second half of 2018.

In February, HMS Forth (P222), the first of five River Class OPVs departed Glasgow and her birthplace on the Clyde, to make her way to the home port at Portsmouth Naval Base. This was a significant milestone in the programme as HMS Forth (P222) is the first completed complex warship to leave Glasgow since HMS DUNCAN in 2013.

The second in class, HMS Medway (P223), named in October 2017, is set to depart for sea trials in the first half of this year. The fourth ship, HMS Tamar, is now structurally complete while the final River Class OPV, HMS Spey, is under construction at BAE Systems’ Govan yard.

The formal acceptance

Guto Bebb MP, the recently appointed UK Minister for Defence Procurement, visited BAE Systems’ Clyde shipyards today to announce the formal acceptance of the first River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) by the Ministry of Defence and witness progress on the Type 26 programme as production started on the second hull section of Glasgow, the first of the City Class frigates.

Defence Minister announces acceptance of Royal Navy's new Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Forth (P222)
Defence Minister announces acceptance of Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Forth (P222)

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: «Thanks to the hard work of the Clyde shipyards, HMS Forth (P222) is now ready to join the Royal Navy surface fleet and begin the vital task of defending the UK and her interests around the world. Developing the Type 26 capability is also making great strides forward, reflecting the UK’s commitment to this cutting-edge new warship, which will sustain 4,000 jobs in Scotland and right across the UK».

HMS Forth (P222) will remain at the Scotstoun yard in Glasgow for a short period to complete some additional work requested by the MOD and on departure will be the first complex warship to leave Glasgow since HMS Duncan (D37) in 2013. She is expected to be commissioned into Her Majesty’s fleet at her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base this year.

HMS Medway (P223), the second of class, was named in October 2017 and is set to depart for sea trials in the first half of this year, while HMS Trent (P224) will be formally named in the spring. Tamar and Spey, the last of the River Class OPVs are currently under production at BAE Systems’ Govan yard.

Iain Stevenson, BAE Systems Naval Ships Managing Director, said: «It has been a pleasure to welcome the Minister to our facilities today and we were proud to show him around HMS Forth (P222). She is the first of a very special class of ships that we know will provide the Royal Navy and her crew with the flexibility they need to perform their vital operations. We are equally proud of the progress we are making on Glasgow, which is the first of three contracted next generation City Class Type 26 frigates. We are committed to supporting the Royal Navy through the delivery of these ships plus the five River Class OPVs, while we continue to work with our partner Cammell Laird to bid for the Type 31e contract».

Manufacture of the first Type 26, Glasgow, began in July 2017 and is progressing well with production starting on the second zone of the ship. The first hull section is already taking shape at the Govan yard and the second houses the main machinery space, aviation stores for embarked helicopters and a recreational area for the ships’ 59 senior rates.

During the visit BAE Systems also announced the signing of a £5.6 million contract with General Electric to establish an Electrical Integration and Test Facility in Whetstone, Leicestershire, to enable critical de-risking integration tests for the Type 26 propulsion systems. The agreement, which follows a previous Design Development contract signed in 2016, brings the total committed investment in the facility to around £13 million.

With a cutting edge platform design and the ability to adapt to the requirements of different navies, the Type 26 design has been proposed for the Australian Government’s anti-submarine warfare frigate programme and the Canadian Surface Combatant programme.

Bangladeshi patrol

On October 12, 2017, Fincantieri has delivered at its shipyard in Muggiano (La Spezia) the last two units part of the supply contract of four Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), to the Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG), through the upgrading and conversion of the «Minerva» class corvettes, decommissioned by the Italian Navy. These are the «Urania» and «Danaide» vessels, renamed «KARAMUZZAMAN» and «MANSOOR ALI», which have been retired from the national fleet in March 2016 and shortly after arrived at Fincantieri’s dock in Genova, where the upgrading and conversion activities started. The units have been completed at the Integrated naval shipyard of Muggiano (La Spezia).

Fincantieri has converted and upgraded four former Italian navy corvettes into offshore patrol vessels for the Bangladesh Coast Guard. The first were handed over in August 2016 and the final two on October 12 (Fincantieri photo)
Fincantieri has converted and upgraded four former Italian navy corvettes into offshore patrol vessels for the Bangladesh Coast Guard. The first were handed over in August 2016 and the final two on October 12 (Fincantieri photo)

Attending the ceremony, among others, Mr. Mostafa Kamal Uddin, Secretary to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Rear Adm. AMMM Aurangzeb Chowdhury, Director General of the Bangladesh Coast Guard, while Fincantieri was represented by Paolo Frino, Deputy Senior Vice President Fincantieri Services.

Together with «Minerva» and «Sibilla», renamed «SYED NAZRUL» and «TAJUDDIN» and delivered in August 2016, these vessels will form the backbone of the Bangladesh Coast Guard’s fleet, with an extension of the lifespan by more than twenty years.

The units will be used to patrol the country’s maritime boundaries and traffic in its Exclusive Economic Zone, with capabilities to contain environmental pollution and to rescue and assist civilian populations in the case of humanitarian emergencies. This contract has confirmed, therefore, the ability of Fincantieri – the only one among the suppliers of naval vessels – to offer tailor-made solutions for every Navy and Coast Guard, according to individual needs and characteristics, by developing new projects or, alternatively, thanks to the precious support of the Italian Navy, by performing in-depth and strict refitting process on second-hand units.

Within the development of Fincantieri business in the Far East, this agreement is moreover particularly relevant for the supply of after-sales services for naval vessels, because it allows to provide a full range of services for both the platform and the combat system: from industrial Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Conversions  to those related to the Life Cycle Management of the vessels, both through the supply of Integrated Logistic Support services, usually developed during construction or conversion, and of In Service Support activities, ensured after the delivery, during the operation of the vessels.

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)

Fifth OPV for UK

BAE Systems welcomed Mr. Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of Defence Equipment and Support, to its Govan shipyard in Glasgow on 21 April 2017 to cut the first metal and begin construction of HMS Spey, the fifth and final River Class Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Royal Navy.

Construction begins on fifth OPV for UK Royal Navy
Construction begins on fifth OPV for UK Royal Navy

To mark the occasion, employees were joined at a ceremony by representatives of the Royal Navy and the local community as Mr. Douglas operated the plasma cutting machine to cut the first steel plates for HMS Spey.

BAE Systems has recently invested over £2 million in new technology for its Fabrication Facility, including the introduction of two robotic welding machines and a new laser cutting machine, which will be used on HMS Spey and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship later this year.

DE&S CEO Tony Douglas, said; «The team at Defence Equipment and Support has driven the successful delivery of the OPV programme; today’s steel cut is a proud moment not only for us, but for the Royal Navy and our industry partners too. I am looking forward to continuing this long-standing and close relationship when we begin manufacturing for the Type 26 fleet later in the summer».

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «It is special occasions such as the steel cut of HMS Spey today that help us reflect on the importance of what we do, delivering the ships that will protect our nation’s interests at home and abroad. We are investing in the latest digital design technologies and new processes which enable us to deliver the quality ships and help to secure the long-term future of our highly skilled industry in the UK. We now have five OPVs in various stages of construction at our shipyards in Glasgow and I look forward to seeing the first of class Type 26 Global Combat Ship start to take shape in the summer of this year».

This OPV design differs from the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships but there are variants already in service in Brazil and Thailand which puts capability at the forefront of their navies.

The first vessel, HMS Forth (P222), entered the water in August 2016, less than two years after construction started, and is now preparing for sea trials before being delivered to the Royal Navy by the end of 2017.

Work on the River Class OPVs continues to sustain skills in Glasgow and the wider supply chain, with more than 100 companies in the programme across the UK.

The first vessel, HMS Forth (P222), entered the water in August 2016
The first vessel, HMS Forth (P222), entered the water in August 2016