The final of five new offshore patrol vessels has formally joined the Royal Navy in a short ceremony to raise the White Ensign for the first time on HMS Spey (P234).
She was delivered to Portsmouth Naval Base in October from BAE Systems’ shipyards on the Clyde for the final stages of construction before Spey’s crew took custody of her yesterday afternoon.
Spey’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, said: «It is such a privilege to lead Spey’s complement through the coming trials and training programme and bring her to operational status. In spite of the considerable disruption caused by the pandemic, the Royal Navy has received the fifth and final offshore patrol vessel and our job now is to prepare ourselves and Spey for whatever operations we are assigned».
No guests were invited for the ceremony to change the Blue Ensign – denoting a ship in government service – for White, and only essential personnel were on board with HMS Spey (P234), which is expected to depart Portsmouth next month for the first time.
HMS Spey (P234) will need to complete a series of safety and readiness checks, successfully complete about a month of Operational Sea Training later this year and then she can be formally commissioned into the Fleet like her sisters HMS Tamar (P233) and HMS Trent (P224) did during 2020.
They are both on operations in UK waters, HMS Trent (P224) having returned from her second deployment to the Mediterranean. The first two Batch 2 River Class, HMS Forth (P222) and HMS Medway (P223) are deployed to the South and North Atlantic respectively.
The second-generation River-class programme has delivered five warships inside six years, joining the original Rivers (HMS Mersey (P283), HMS Severn (P283) and HMS Tyne (P283)), with the two most recently constructed benefitting from urea filters which reduce their nitrogen oxide exhaust emissions by 90 per cent.
With Spey’s handover the Batch 2 programme comes to an end, £44 m under its original approved cost of £690 m and on time thanks to effective collaboration between the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and industry.
At its peak, it has sustained about 1,400 jobs within BAE Systems, including more than 200 apprentices, and delivered a supply chain spend of almost £240m to more than 150 suppliers across the UK and Europe.