Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers
equipment / Ships
River Class
equipment / Ships

River Class

Defending the UK interests at home and abroad. These mighty vessels secure territorial waters and support law enforcement missions.

River Class offshore patrol vessel

Royal Navy Ship HMS Spey at sea
HMS Spey approaches the shores of the Tanna Islands

Protection: home and abroad

Two generations of River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) serve under the White Ensign. HMS Tyne, Severn and Mersey belong to the first, operating since the early 2000s. Since 2017, they have been joined in the fleet by the larger, faster and more capable HMS Forth, Medway, Trent, Tamar and Spey.
Offshore patrol vessel sets sail from Portsmouth

Effective & adaptable

What makes the River Class OPVs unique is their adaptability and endurance. They are designed to operate for prolonged periods, with the capacity to cover long distances and remain at sea for extended durations. Another characteristic is the large, open aft deck, which can be fitted with equipment for a specific role, such as firefighting, disaster relief and anti-pollution work.

About the crew

The Royal Navy’s OPVs typically has a compliment of 28, but can accommodate a crew of 30 as well as a marine boarding party of 18. Modular cabins are either single or double berth with en-suite facilities.

Safeguarding the seas

Merlin helicopter drops humanitarian aid supplies onto HMS Medway

Versatile vessels  

The River Class OPVs are purpose built to excel in any given situation
The working deck can accommodate up to six containers, enabling the ship to carry additional stores, workshops, mine countermeasure support containers, a diving recompression container or medical facilities.

To handle standard containers, a heavy 25-tonne capacity crane can be fitted to the vessels for loading and unloading purposes.

HMS Medway tests its 30mm gun in live firing test

Rapid-fire retaliation

The Navy’s OPVs are protected by a selection of heavy-duty firepower
Situated at the front of the River Class OPVs is a single-mounting carrying an Oerlikon 30mm gun, which is designed to defend Royal Navy frigates against short-range missiles, grenades and explosives. This gun is controlled from a remote console elsewhere on the ship.

The ships also have simple, hand-operated mountings carrying Oerlikon KAA200 automatic cannons, which can fire 1,000 rounds per minute at a range of 2,000 meters.

Units and squadrons

Discover the global operations and base of the Royal Navy ship units. Track our missions, explore facts and figures, and check our current and past deployment locations.

Join the Surface Fleet

Ready to go places? A career in the Surface Fleet could take you all over the world - on missions as varied as the oceans we defend.

Featured Surface Fleet roles