HMS Forth enters service

HMS Forth, the first of Royal Navy’s five new Batch-2 River-class offshore patrol vessels, entered service in a ceremony held at her Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth, on April 13.

At the ceremony, the ship’s Lady Sponsor, Rachel Johnstone-Burt, was joined by UK government and defense officials, as well as the families of the ship’s company.

Forth is the first of five vessels in her class, designed and built by BAE Systems. The ship arrived at its Portsmouth homeport on February 26, 2018, after being launched at BAE Systems’ Glasgow construction site in August 2016.

The remaining four ships are expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020. The Batch 2 OPVs are four knots faster than their predecessors at 24 knots, have an increased range of 5,500 nautical miles. They are equipped with a 30mm automatic cannon as their main armament instead of a 20mm gun, two Miniguns and four machine-guns.

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 and each carries two Pacific 24 sea boats.

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.