First River-class OPV HMS Forth arrives home

The Royal Navy’s first Batch-2 River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Forth arrived in her new homeport at Portsmouth Naval Base on February 26. 

She is the first of five vessels in the class, designed for counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defense duties.

HMS Forth will enter service this year, while the remaining four ships are all expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020.

Commanding officer, Commander Bob Laverty, said: “It’s huge a privilege to be the first commanding officer of HMS Forth and I am delighted to be the first to bring her into Portsmouth.

“These ships are vastly more capable and can provide the Royal Navy with a range of flexibility from fishery protection to deploying overseas on counter-smuggling operations and protecting British Overseas Territories.”

The ship departed BAE Systems ship building base on the Clyde last week following an extended period of sea trials. They began in August 2017 and have honed the ship to its current state, ready to be handed over to the Royal Navy, which will take her onto the operational stage of her life.

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.

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 under the terms of the Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF) contract. It was awarded to the company in 2014 to manage Portsmouth Naval base and to support the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based surface fleet.

The next major milestone for HMS Forth will be to undertake her first naval deployment, which is anticipated to take place later this year.