Historic Ship to be Named in Portsmouth

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
HMS Clyde, the first ship to be built in Portsmouth Naval Base for nearly 40 years, will be named in a night ceremony at VT Shipbuilding’s facilities on Thursday, September 7.

The Royal Navy’s new 80m Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) will be named by Mrs Lesley Dunt, wife of Vice Admiral Peter Dunt, Director of Defense Estates.

When Mrs Dunt smashes the champagne bottle against the hull of the new ship, it will signal the start of a laser light and firework extravaganza that will fill the night air.

HMS Clyde is the first ship constructed in the Base since 1967 when the Leander Class frigate HMS Andromeda was built. The catalyst for this renaissance in shipbuilding was the move in 2003 of VT Shipbuilding to £50 million state-of-the-art facilities which are among the most advanced in Europe. VT is building sections of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 destroyer at Portsmouth but HMS Clyde is the first complete ship to emerge from the giant assembly halls at the site.

The new OPV(H) will be the patrol ship for the Falkland Islands and will be officially accepted by the MOD next month before she is deployed to the South Atlantic next Spring – around the time of the 25th anniversary of the conflict.

VT Portsmouth Shipbuilding Facility Managing Director Francis Paonessa said: “This is a special moment for VT and Portsmouth. Our state-of-the-art facilities mean that the quality of the new build is among the best that we have produced in the long history of VT shipbuilding. HMS Clyde is a fitting ship to mark the return of shipbuilding to the Base and underlines Portsmouth’s important role in today’s Royal Navy.”

HMS Clyde’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Simon Hopper said, "She's absolutely outstanding. She is an impressive ship with modern capabilities. The current Castle Class ships have an air surveillance capability but HMS Clyde has a state of the art air surveillance radar and more extensive armaments."

"The ship's capability will allow her to contribute fully to the work of the RAF and Army when she is on station.” One of the unique features of the ship is that she is owned by VT Group and chartered to the Ministry of Defence for a period of five years. At the end of that period, the MoD can either extend the charter, return the ship or purchase her outright. The same principle is used for three similar River Class vessels already in service and built by VT. They are used for fishery protection work around the UK coast.

Working closely with the Defense Logistics Organization, VT is tasked with providing a full contractor maintenance service for HMS Clyde, allowing Lt Comm. Hopper, who lives in Southsea, and his crew the chance to concentrate on their operational role. He adds: "The support principle has already been tested with the SVHO and River Class ships but we are now taking this concept 8,000 miles away so it will be a totally new challenge. We will have a VT engineer embedded in the ship and he will be part of the ship's company."

Among the ship’s enhanced features compared to the River Class is a flight deck capable of accepting helicopters up to the size of the new Merlin aircraft. Other enhancements include increased accommodation to cater for an embarked force, a 30mm gun, higher levels of survivability and air surveillance radar.

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