UK starts construction of two more Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels

Photo: UK MoD
Photo: UK MoD

The UK Ministry of Defence announced Thursday that work on two new offshore patrol vessels for the Royal Navy will get underway with a £278M contract with shipbuilder BAE Systems.

The two new vessels were named HMS Tamar and HMS Spey.

Preparation works were already underway and Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, will mark the official start of production by attending the steel cutting ceremony for HMS Tamar at the Govan shipyard in Scotland.

The contract with BAE Systems will bring the Royal Navy’s fleet of next generation River-class OPVs from three to five ships.

These five ships will begin to enter service in 2018, in support of the Royal Navy’s mission to protect national interests at home and around the world.

According to the MoD, the £287 million contract includes the building of HMS Tamar and HMS Spey as well as support for all five of the new ships.

“This contract will deliver two more modern Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, for the Royal Navy and safeguard vital shipbuilding skills and hundreds of jobs in Scotland,” Baldwin said.

“Protected by a rising Defence budget, the OPV programme is an important part of the Government’s £178 billion plan to ensure our armed forces have the equipment they need.”

HMS Tamar and HMS Spey will be manufactured at the Govan shipyard before being floated to Scotstoun to be fitted out. They are expected to be delivered in 2019.

Like the other vessels of its class, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey will carry out counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and maritime defence operations, and are expected to be equipped with a 30mm cannon and a flight deck capable of receiving a Merlin helicopter.

Displacing around 2,000 tonnes, they will have a maximum speed of 24 knots and will be able to sail 5,500 nautical miles before having to resupply.

BAE Systems is currently exploring a number of export opportunities with international customers for OPV. The Brazilian Navy operates three Amazonas-class corvettes which are based on the design of the River Class OPV and were built at BAE Systems’ facilities in the UK.