HMS Forth Commissioned
The first of the U.K. Royal Navy's next-generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) has been formally commissioned into the fleet.
Commissioned last week at her home base of Portsmouth, HMS Forth represents the second ship to join the Royal Navy in less than six months, following aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned in December. The warships are part of the government’s £178 billion plan to bolster its Armed Forces over the next decade.
HMS Forth is the first of five new OPVs designed for counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrol, counter-terrorism and maritime defense duties.
Classified as Batch 2 River-class OPVs HMS Forth and her sisters – HMS Trent, Medway, Tamar and Spey - are a significant upgrade on HMS Tyne, Severn, Mersey and Clyde, which were designed and built 15 years ago. With HMS Forth entering service this year, the remaining four ships are all expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020.
Built by BAE Systems at their base on the Clyde, the new OPVs are four knots faster than their predecessors at 24 knots, have an increased range of 5,500 nautical miles, have a 30mm automatic cannon as their main armament instead of a 20mm gun, two Miniguns, four machine-guns and are equipped with two Pacific 24 sea boats.
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.
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.